The 2023 Yankees won't be buying like fiends at this year's trade deadline, but the least they owe their fans is a competent left fielder who won't be a liability at the still-mostly-vacant position. Rockies outfielder (and former Yankees thorn) Randal Grichuk's name came up again and again in this discussion as a cheap, powerful alternative to the current rotation. When he went to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Sunday night, instead of New York, it was a genuine shock, given the overload of smoke between the two parties.
One question, though: are we sure he's a competent left fielder who won't be a liability at the still-mostly-vacant position?
Grichuk has hit 18 home runs in 66 career games against the Yankees. That is remarkable. He's hitting .307 with a 117 OPS+ this season, numbers the current Yankees outfield has been unable to match. That's impressive. His luxury tax salary for this season is just $6 million, which will be prorated down to $2 million by the time he lands in New York. Maybe Isiah Kiner-Falefa goes to Denver in this swap to balance the money out? It all makes sense.
Until you remember Grichuk's right-handed, which doesn't help balance much of anything, and will likely play in a platoon with Jake Bauers if acquired. It's also worth noting that -- and this is the big one -- the defensive metrics that claim Bauers can't field say the same thing about Grichuk.
Yankees Rumors: Randal Grichuk trade actually what the doctor ordered?
Outfield metrics are notoriously finicky, but ... this ... isn't the kind of thing you want to read as the deadline clock ticks down.
Bauers is a first baseman who was never supposed to be a lockdown defensive left fielder. He has, uh, how do we put this nicely ... not passed the eye test at any point this season. Unfortunately, the number-crunchers view whatever Bauers has been improvising to be on par with Grichuk's 2023 defensive performance.
"The Yankees have interest in Rockies left fielder Randal Grichuk. He’d help the offense and could offer a platoon option versus left-handed pitching if the Yankees kept Billy McKinney or Jake Bauers as the option versus right-handers. The biggest issue with Grichuk is he’s graded out just as poorly as Bauers; they’re both at minus-5 in OAA."- Chris Kirschner, The Athletic
The Yankees need someone who can own the left field job night in and night out, for watchability's sake if not outright contention. Bauers has been one of the team's best power hitters this season (it's true, .757 OPS). Maybe, post-deadline, he could move to first and Anthony Rizzo could enjoy a roster-crunch-saving phantom (or real?) IL stint?
The Yankees need lefty threats who can competently handle the outfield defensively. They don't need platoon bats who'll struggle on the other side of the ball. Grichuk, unfortunately, seems unlikely to be enough, and could even make things worse. That's why he ended up on the other side of the country.