Remember when the Yankees opted not to fortify left field during the offseason, content to let Andrew Benintendi walk without a replacement? Yeah. About that.
Oswaldo Cabrera, God love him, is scuffling tremendously, subtracting WAR from the Yankees roster instead of adding it. He probably is not a starting left fielder in this league, though odds are he'll be valuable again someday in a utility role. Aaron Hicks? Don't be fooled by his extra-base hits in consecutive games; he's been worth -0.7 bWAR in only 59 at-bats. How is that possible?! It's possible, and it's happening.
Jake Bauers? Willie Calhoun? Franchy Cordero? All have had nice moments. None of whom should stand in the way of a midseason upgrade.
While San Francisco's Joc Pederson is the popular pick to get the Yankees postseason ready, the St. Louis Cardinals are having a fire ... sale, shockingly sitting in the NL Central's basement. They're also showing a sudden interest in shoving Willson Contreras into their already-crowded outfield in the years to come, meaning a quartet of outfielders will hit the market in the weeks to come, according to The Athletic's Jim Bowden.
Despite a recent hot spurt, we're still going to toss a hearty "no thank you" to Juan Yepez, the 25-year-old first baseman/outfielder who's still been worth negative bWAR to begin 2023. The Yankees should absolutely consider the other three available names, though, presented in ascending order of desire.
3 St. Louis Cardinals trade targets Yankees should pursue at 2023 trade deadline
Cardinals Trade Target: Alec Burleson
Left-handed swingin' Alec Burleson might not have the defensive chops of the other Cardinals on the chopping block, but he's raked at every level of the minors, and is still just 24.
Something between a left fielder and a first baseman (again, that gives us pause), Burleson tore up the International League last season, drilling 20 home runs in 109 games, batting .331 with a .904 OPS. This season, he's off to a slower start (aren't we all), hitting .218 with a .670 OPS with regular playing time for the floundering Cards.
The aptly-named Burleson doesn't look like a prototypical corner outfielder, but boasts a strong arm (78th percentile on Savant) that belies his limited range (12th-percentile OAA). He rarely whiffs (96th percentile), meaning his early struggles haven't resulted from poor contact rates.
Burleson remains an intriguing prospect (just 24 years old) and would help balance the Yankees' lineup, but doesn't fit their prototypical mold of an outfield acquisition.