Hmm. Maybe the Yankees' Joey Gallo trade ... wasn't that big a disaster ... after ... all? Ok, ok, a giant hook is trying to drag me off stage, but BEFORE I GO, it's worth wondering what happened to the centerpiece of New York's offer that summer.
After all, last time most of us checked, Ezequiel Durán was in the midst of a star-making performance. The Rangers' last 2023 matchup with the Yankees took place on June 25 in the Bronx; Durán was hitting .312 with an .876 OPS and covering multiple positions effectively at the time of the deal.
Now that the Rangers are in the national spotlight and have been for weeks, fans have become intimately familiar with their lineup and repertory collection of regulars (gotta check in on Monty, after all!). Durán has been ... nowhere to be found. What gives? Didn't the Yankees give up an immediate 24-year-old All-Star in exchange for one of their toughest-to-watch trade acquisitions of all time? Where'd he go?
Short answer? Evan Carter happened to him; the Rangers vastly prefer playing their 2020 second-round pick and immediate superstar who now bats in the middle of their order. But the longer answer involves a months-long slump, only 13 games played in a muted September, and a dip in production that left him exiled from the Rangers' first playoff roster. Texas preferred to carry three catchers, shucking Durán off the roster in favor of Austin Hedges, and the rest has been history.
What happened to Rangers star Ezequiel Durán in 2023 MLB Playoffs?
By the end of the season, Durán's numbers had dipped to a .276 average, .768 OPS and 106 OPS+; he slumped to .226 with a .610 OPS in the second half. While it's true the Rangers have a bevy of offensive beasts and the Yankees don't have nearly enough hot bats to compensate for such a benching, Durán was objectively bad for months before Bruce Bochy and Co. made the repeated decision to leave him off successive playoff rosters.
The whole "three catchers" thing continued through the ALCS, leaving Durán out in the cold. Even fellow former Yankees prospect Josh Smith made the roster, though he's barely participated this October, making a single appearance in the ALCS without an at-bat. In the end, this trade might've been exactly what we thought it was: Yankees 40-man roster chum being exchanged for an All-Star bat whose game ended up being an aesthetic eyesore.
Gallo wasn't suited for the Bronx. Durán wasn't ready for the rigors of a full season or postseason. Call it (gulp) even, even though the Rangers' ascent started, in earnest, the moment they dumped Gallo and rededicated themselves to building their offense a different way.