Yankees can finally pretend to regret one aspect of Joey Gallo trade with Rangers

Ok, fine, you got us.
Kansas City Royals v Texas Rangers
Kansas City Royals v Texas Rangers / Sam Hodde/GettyImages

When the New York Yankees traded for Joey Gallo back in 2021, the decision from Brian Cashman and the front office was actually a calculated one. The team needed a lefty power bat and another versatile outfielder. Done deal.

Not only that, but New York didn't part with a single player they needed. Cashman sent four players to the Texas Rangers, all of whom were either going to be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft that offseason or were blocked in the farm system by superior talent.

You would've never known that, though, if you listened to rival fans who had no idea what they were talking about. Even before Gallo cratered and put up the worst 140 games of full-time reps in franchise history, this was erroneously deemed a "fleece."

The Rangers received Ezequiel Duran (INF), Glenn Otto (P), Trevor Hauver (UTIL) and Josh Smith (INF) for Gallo and reliever Joely Rodriguez. Duran had a strong 122 games last season, which made the contrarian chatter louder, but he's fallen off drastically ever since last July. Otto is no longer with Texas. Hauver just made it to Triple-A and is struggling as a 25-year-old.

Finally, though, the haters might have an argument, as Smith has emerged as a potential All-Star in 2024 while the Rangers have battled through countless injuries. He's stepped up in a massive way and has saved Texas on both sides of the ball.

Yankees can finally pretend to regret one aspect of Joey Gallo trade with Rangers

Could the Yankees use Smith at the moment? Sure. They've suffered a lot of injuries as well and could very much get more meaningful reps at third base and second base (and could even use a DH day here and there for Anthony Volpe at shortstop).

But what were the Yankee supposed to do? Grant Smith a coveted 40-man roster spot and hold onto him for three more seasons in hopes he would be a reliable piece for them in 2024? At the time, Smith was indeed playing well at High-A and Double-A, but had Volpe, Oswald Peraza, Trey Sweeney, Alexander Vargas, and even Oswaldo Cabrera ahead of him in the pecking order.

Smith, now 26 years old, has had his first respectable stretch as an MLBer across 74 games this season (.300 AVG., .869 OPS, 149 OPS+, 7 homers, 31 RBI). Take out Smith's nuclear month of June, and his numbers would've been very comparable to Cabrera's to date. This is an impressive flash in the pan, and even if Smith becomes an everyday starter and fringe All-Star talent, it still shouldn't make the Yankees regret anything.

That won't be what you hear, though. You'll just get the snippets of Gallo's worst moments as a Yankee and highlights of Smith belting homers in Arlington and making web gems at third base. That's just how it goes sometimes.

But you know the truth. The Yankees took a worthwhile swing that didn't cost them in the short- or long-term. Gallo's unthinkably horrific tenure shifted the conversation into nitpicking the return package, because in reality any productive player traded for him felt like a massive loss. If the Yankees were hurting that bad, they wouldn't be the best team in the AL right now. We'll leave it at that.