The Yankees' quest for left-handed outfield bats has to include some lower-than-Juan-Soto targets. Unfortunately, that means if they strike out on Soto, they could be left simply running back the 2023 St. Louis Cardinals, a team no one should want to emulate.
Luckily, though, according to the rumors that leaked this week, they're at least on the path tracking the most desirable available Cardinal at the moment.
According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Yankees and Cards have engaged on both Brendan Donovan and Alec Burleson in recent weeks.
Donovan, the Gold Glove award winner in the utility role last year, successfully manned second, third, left and right in 2022. That would make him a fairly potent -- and left-handed -- potential replacement for Gleyber Torres; he's batted .283/.381/.398 in his career thus far, with impressively balanced walk and strikeout rates.
Burleson? He's a lefty, but has appeared to be more of a Quad-A player (and defensive downgrade) thus far in his MLB career. After hitting .331 with 20 homers and a .904 OPS (doesn't walk much, .372 OBP) at Triple-A in 2022, he posted just an 87 OPS+ and subtracted 0.8 bWAR this past season with the Cardinals.
Yankees chasing Alec Burleson, Brendan Donovan
Anyone else feel like the Yankees and Cardinals were engaged on Dylan Carlson last season, things fell apart, Carlson underwent ankle surgery, they reengaged recently and asked about Donovan, and were redirected to Burleson to see if Cashman could be swayed to grab the Kirkland Brand instead? No? Just me? I'm the only one who writes Yankees-Cardinals fan fiction? Got it.
We'll forgive you if you didn't want too much Cardinals baseball last summer as their team spiraled, but their roster is currently overrun by versatile infielder/outfielder types. Unfortunately, none of these moderate bats helped lengthen the lineup much around Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt last year.
The Cardinals are a perfect fit for Yankees starters stuck in the middle, like Clarke Schmidt and Clayton Beeter (who it's rumored St. Louis loves), but at the end of the day, both teams might end up swapping underwhelming assets for one another and passing problems across the country.
Donovan could be a great start to a solid Yankees offseason, as long as he isn't Cashman's final resting place. Burleson? The Yankees would have to build from there and reach Soto in order for us to sign off.