Yankees' future free agent splurge and potential Astros Horcrux is staring them in face

If this man reaches free agency, the Yankees can't miss.

Houston Astros v New York Yankees
Houston Astros v New York Yankees / Adam Hunger/GettyImages

If you could pick up one player from across the world of Major League Baseball and plop them on the Yankees without resistance, you'd probably opt for a young, athletic, left-handed outfielder.

Arizona's Corbin Carroll would be hard to beat, as a hypothetical target. You could also go with a thumper; San Diego's Juan Soto and Houston's Yordan Álvarez wouldn't bring much on defense, but could both turn into Prime Barry Bonds, given access to Yankee Stadium's porch.

While the already-extended Carroll won't be available anytime soon, there might be another lefty swinger (who feasts on left-handed pitching) up for grabs in the real world before too long: Houston Astros right fielder Kyle Tucker.

The "pipe dream addition" conversation is all fun and games, but Tucker's probably the first name on the list who could realistically join the Yankees (Soto might be available, too, but that's a conversation for another Hal Steinbrenner budget). His hypothetical removal from the Astros' lineup? Just another benefit.

Tucker's price is only rising with each successive swat into the right-field seats, and Houston, for whatever reason, has been reticent to engage in contract extension talks since this spring. He won't cost Aaron Judge Money, but elevated Brandon Nimmo Money for a 29-year-old after the 2025 season doesn't sound so bad. If you could design a player in a lab to join the Yankees lineup, it might be Tucker, and luckily, the Astros' player development folks have already done the work for them.

Yankees need to make Kyle Tucker Priority No. 1 in future plans

This isn't a, "My God, the Yankees Want Everyone" column. It's a, "My God, Can the Yankees Prioritize Athleticism in Free Agency One Time" column.

Tucker's 140 OPS+, 3.3 bWAR, and .343 AVG/1.009 OPS reverse splits against lefties tell a good portion of the story, but the maturity and control he continually displays in his perfectly-composed swing tells the rest. Quite expectedly, his "expected home runs by park" at Yankee Stadium would be three higher than his current total (22 to 19). Anyone who watched him this past weekend already knew that, though, considering his swing was tailored specifically to whip inner-half pitches down the right field line.

There's certainly a chance the Astros' deadline trade of Drew Gilbert/Ryan Clifford for Justin Verlander increased their chances of retaining Tucker long-term. They didn't thin out their outfield without a backup plan. Of course ... Tucker knows that, too. He knows Houston needs him. He knows they don't have a viable in-house alternative. Why would he agree to a below-market deal without testing out competitors' offers?

The Yankees will never have Corbin Carroll under contract in his prime. At this moment, it's hard to envision them adding athleticism in the outfield unless Everson Pereira, Jasson Dominguez and Spencer Jones pan out and max out. But Tucker could be an old-fashioned solution, if the Yankees are willing to flex in two years. They just have to wait things out and hope Tucker's interested in learning his worth.