Yankees should pursue All-Star snub first baseman as ideal rental trade candidate

Oakland Athletics v Arizona Diamondbacks
Oakland Athletics v Arizona Diamondbacks / Norm Hall/GettyImages

Perhaps, for the first time in nearly 23 full years, something genuinely good for the New York Yankees will emerge from the desert.

While it's certainly possible that Ben Rice, who's looked more than a little hitter-ish lately, becomes the Yankees' first baseman of the future (both immediate and long-term), anyone who's watched this lineup recently is well aware that they could use more bats four-through-nine (and maybe, uh, also leading off). That means first base, vacated in the wake of Anthony Rizzo's injury, could use a permanent upgrade. So could the DH spot, while Giancarlo Stanton resets. Ditto catcher, where Jose Trevino's throwing deficiencies and Austin Wells' semi-stagnant offense have combined for an unappealing picture.

Rice is a first baseman, technically, but a catcher by trade. If his hit tool ends up exceeding his defense, he might be a valuable option for DH reps. What if there was a plug-and-play first baseman on the fringes of the market who could take some defensive pressure off Rice?

Somehow, eternally underrated power-hitting (and Gold Glove-winning) first baseman Christian Walker becomes a free agent following the 2024 season, and the Arizona Diamondbacks are at the fringes of a crowded Wild Card picture. They won't sell one of their cornerstones until they fall off a cliff, but the Yankees should be rooting for precisely that. Somehow, Walker hasn't been a part of nearly enough trade deadline conversations yet.

Yankees should trade for Diamondbacks slugger Christian Walker at 2024 MLB Trade Deadline

Tack on Paul Sewald, also a free agent after the 2024 season, and we really might have something here.

If you want to overpay for infield depth with a Savant page so blue it's basically screaming, "Ice to meet you!" then Luis Rengifo of the Angels could be your guy. But if you'd rather focus on a power/glove combo and aren't turned off by importing a righty bat on a two-month leash instead of a lefty/switch-hitter, it's hard to envision a better Yankees option than Walker.

Despite only being tied to two months of control, Walker won't come cheaply; the Yankees will have to surrender an upper-level pitching prospect and a 40-man eligible player or two. Brock Selvidge's Futures Game appearance just got a little more important. Jared Serna and Benjamin Cowles, don't say we didn't warn you.

But Walker's 127 OPS+, 17 bombs, and sturdy defense would provide the Yankees exactly what they believed they were getting in Rizzo three years ago. Somehow, Walker has been passed up on the initial All-Star roster in favor of Pete Alonso (???), but that shouldn't affect New York's opinion much. With more lefty pop in the lineup than in previous years (including Rice), handedness isn't quite as big a concern as it's been. Finding thunder, at any position it's available, is now paramount if the Yankees want to prove they deserve to be considered genuine contenders.

Walker, coming out of the All-Star break, could be a picture perfect solution, and a nice way to remove the negative association between "World Series" and "Diamondbacks".