In their search to improve the offense in 2023, the Yankees were reportedly in talks with the Cardinals about a few of their outfield bats, including Brendan Donovan. With the Cardinals' surplus of outfielders and the Yankees' bevy of controllable starting pitching, the two seem like natural trade partners, and talks could pick up again this offseason.
Pros: Donovan could end up being the leadoff hitter the Yankees have yearned for since DJ LeMahieu's decline. A patient, contact-oriented left-handed bat who won't hit free agency until after the 2027 season, Donovan should be a fixture at the leadoff spot for years to come.
Donovan's 2023 was cut short due to a flexor tendon injury, but in his 95 games he posted an impressive .284/.365/.422 slash line, good for a 118 wRC+. He also saw an increase in power, likely thanks to a 7.5% increase in pull rate and a 2.4% increase in barrel rate. Plus, had he played his home games in Yankee Stadium last year, it would've added another homer to his total.
The Yankees would probably rather get Soto and lock him up long-term, but a still-developing Donovan is far from the worst consolation prize.
Cons: While Donovan's power surge in 2023 should be repeatable, he's still a ground ball hitter at heart. Sure, he slashed that rate from 54.3% in 2022 to 46.7% in 2023, but that's still worse than the league-average mark.
It also remains to be seen whether or not Donovan has the range of a true left fielder; he's been roughly a league-average defender there in the past, but his strength defensively has always been his arm, not necessarily his ability to track down balls.
If the Yankees move forward with acquiring Donovan, it will likely cost them a pretty penny in terms of prospect capital due to how much team control is attached to him, and there's a decent chance that he ends up being just a slightly above average major league player.