Yankees Acquire Joey Gallo from the Rangers

The big splash is here. According to every baseball writer you follow and have ever heard of, the Yankees have an agreement in place with the Rangers to acquire left-handed outfielder Joey Gallo. While there are many rumors swirling about the package, the fact is we have no idea what the Yankees gave up yet, so let’s start with the facts. (Update: we now know, so this has been updated accordingly.) Here is the trade, at least the key pieces, according to Jeff Passan, Joel Sherman, and Lindsey Adler:

  • Yankees Get: Joey Gallo, LHP John King
  • Rangers Get: RHP Glenn Otto, 2B Ezequiel Duran, SS Josh Smith, RHP Randy Vasquez, OF Everson Pereira, and 2B Trevor Hauver

(Update again: We in fact do not know the final package, as Jack Curry reported late last night that it didn’t include Vasquez and Duran, nor did it include John King but Joely Rodriguez. At this point, given the lack of official confirmation, we’re leaving this analysis up and will edit as needed later today.)

Okay, there is a lot to unpack here. A lot a lot a lot. Most of it good, though. The Yankees got potentially the biggest impact bat on the market for a lot of mid-level prospects who broke out in 2021. That is a pure upgrade for the team. It’s hard not to love that. It is also a Brian Cashman special, as the team unloaded a ton of depth (more on that later) without sacrificing any MLB talent or top-tier prospects. It’s why I can’t accept any proposals about moving beyond Cashman as serious. He is probably the best trader in the business.

Anyway, I think it makes sense to break this down piece-by-piece, starting with the two players the Yankees got in the trade, moving to the pieces they surrendered, and then an overall look at the move. Let’s get to it, shall we?

Joey Gallo

Derek masterfully broke down Gallo the other day in a preview, so be sure to check that out. It’s got all the goods. I do think it’s worth breaking down a few specifics here, though, while I’ve got you.

First, Joey Gallo, who is under contract through the 2022 season, is a very, very good baseball player. It is objectively good that the Yankees traded for him. He is hitting .223/.379/.490 (140 wRC+) on the season, which is a god-send for the current team. Here are some additional statistics to demonstrate this, with his ranking among qualified batters in parentheses:

  • fWAR: 3.4 (16th, would be highest on 2021 Yankees)
  • Walk Rate: 19.1% (1st, obviously tops on the 2021 Yankees too)
  • wRC+: 140 (22nd, second highest on 2021 Yankees behind Aaron Judge)
  • On-Base Percentage: .379 (18th, highest on 2021 Yankees)
  • Home Runs: 25 (6th, highest on 2021 Yankees)

That is should be enough to make any fan salivate. The Yankees are a middling offense this year (16th in fWAR and a shocking 24th in runs scored) who desperately need all the help they can get. There is no doubt that Gallo will help, and he will help immediately.

Second, Gallo is a left-handed hitter. I am not one to put much stock into this, as many of you know. Get the best hitters. Who cares from which side of the plate they take their hacks? Even still, it is a welcome sight to see a lefty power hitter in the lineup. That is, quite literally, the profile for which Yankee Stadium was designed. Look at Gallo’s career spray chart:

And heat map:

It is not going to be difficult to imagine him mashing in Yankee Stadium, is it? In fact, he’s probably going to gain some power. Look at the spray chart of his field outs, mapped over Yankee Stadium:

A pretty sight, that. Not to mention, Gallo is a productive hitter against both righties (136 wRC+) and lefties (145 wRC+) alike. That is nice, too.

Third, his defense is excellent. By Outs Above Average (95th percentile) and Outfielder Jump (91st percentile), it is clear Gallo is good in the outfield. This also tracks with other defensive metrics. Choose whichever you like; they all tell the same story. This is good news. A lumbering giant, he is not.

Fourth, Gallo is not going to be the player that many fans wanted. He is a huge, hulking power hitter (he’s listed at 6’5″, 250 pounds) and he absolutely loves to strike out. And I mean loves to strike out: his 32.2% strikeout rate is a career low. It is also much higher than Aaron Judge’s (24.9%), Giancarlo Stanton’s (29.2%), and Gary Sánchez’s (27.4%). That is going to rub some fans the wrong way. He is also quite streaky, and hits for a low batting average. So there’s that.

Still, hard not to love this addition, especially factoring in that he will still be around in 2022. This isn’t just an addition for 2021. Next year matters, too.

John King

King is a 26-year-old lefty who made his MLB debut with the Rangers last year. Therefore, King has MiLB options left and will be around for quite some time. He’s been very good in 2021, with a 3.52 ERA (3.30 FIP) in 46 innings pitched He doesn’t walk many (6.2%) but also isn’t a huge strikeout pitcher (20.7%), either. That’s alright. He is an absolute terror against lefties, who have just a .138 wOBA against him, and that has value for the Yankees. King throws a sinker (58% of the time), with a change (19%), slider (14%), and cutter (10%), thrown in there too. He doesn’t throw hard, but he does elicit quite a few grounders (57%). The Yankees have a relief profile, that’s for sure.

He also has something of a unique release point for Yankee lefties, too. Here is the release point plot for left-handed Yankee relievers in 2021:

And here is King’s release point:

It’s still within the general range – this is not a Darren O’Day situation by any means – but it’s clear he’ll bring a different look. Different pitches from a slightly different angle. That’s a lot of orange, yellow, and green, further to the left than batters normally see from lefties. A subtle change, sure, but one I think worth noting. We all saw in the 2020 ALDS how valuable a skill that was for the Rays.

The downside here is that King is currently hurt. He landed on the IL in early July with a shoulder issue, though he recently began a throwing program. We could see him soon, but who knows, really. Still, this is a solid throw-in to the trade for sure. He figures to be a dependable arm, particularly against lefties, not just in 2021 but beyond.

What They Gave Up

A lot of mid-tier prospects. I am pleasantly surprised that the Yankees didn’t part ways with any of their top-tier prospects. Cashman famously hates overpays, sometimes to our chagrin, so perhaps this shouldn’t be a surprise.

Here is a breakdown of the players they gave up, with their Baseball America ranking cited where appropriate:

  • RHP Glenn Otto: the righty topped out at #18 in Baseball America’s organizational rankings in 2018, but really broke out in 2021. The 25-year-old was very, very good with Somerset, pitching to a 3.17 ERA (2.32) FIP in 65.1 innings down there with a ridiculous 41% strikeout rate against a 5.5% walk rate. He struggled a bit more in Triple-A, but it was just 10 innings. Otto added a slider in 2021, which may be key to his success this season.
  • 2B Ezequiel Duran: the 22-year-old 2B was ranked #11 in the organization by Baseball America before the season. He’s hitting .290/.374/.533 (141 wRC+) with High-A Hudson Valley in 2021, and he’s basically always hit as a minor leaguer with the exception of 2018. It’s reasonable to view him as one of the centerpieces of this trade, and could be an everyday 2B with a big stick if it all pans out for him.He has a ton of upside, even if he’s still a few years away.
  • SS Josh Smith: another of the Yanks’ performing middle-infield prospects, the 23-year-old Smith really broke out in 2021. He dominated with Tampa for 11 games, and then continued to hit with the ‘Gades, putting up a .320/.435/.583 (174 wRC+) line with the High-A squad. He was ranked #24 in the system before the season, and reportedly has great contact skills.
  • RHP Randy Vasquez: the 22-year-old Vasquez was not ranked by BA before the season. He pitched very well in 50 innings with Tampa (2.34 ERA, 3.58 FIP) before earning a promotion to Hudson Valley.
  • OF Everson Pereira: the 20-year-old Pereira ranked #19 on BA’s list coming into the season, and boy has he hit. He took a real step forward offensively in limited action, hitting .400/.468/.673 (203 wRC+) in 62 PA with the Tarpons. It’s fair to view him as the other prospect centerpiece here, as he’s a high-upside play with an injury history. Could be a regular, but is still obviously several years away.
  • 2B Trevor Hauver: last year’s 3rd-round pick, Hauver got off to a ridiculous start with Tampa before cooling off. He’s still hitting .288/.445/.498 (159 wRC+), but much of that is buoyed by what was a truly ludicrous first two weeks. Hauver is a college bat with upside – he has good discipline and bat skills – though he is position-less. He was a HS shortstop turned college OF turned professional 2B, so it’s tough to say where he’ll land. So long to the Hauver Heat Check, DoTf readers.

Okay, so with that all out of the way, let’s just say that this is a Brian Cashman special. It has the markings of Cashman from a mile away. Here is a quick reaction.

First, none of the prospects are particularly close. The centerpieces – Duran and Pereira, in my opinion – are still quite a ways away in the lower minors. That means there’s still a ton of upside but a ton of risk, and none of them were going to help the Yankees in the short-term. They are also all off to hot starts to the season, which means it might make sense to capitalize on their hot value now. Gallo, as you know by now, is a good player. You could argue that there is missed opportunity cost – what else could they have gotten with these prospects? – but the Yankees desperately needed offensive help. I’m not complaining.

Second, this is a pure depth move. It vaulted the Yankees’ farm back on the FanGraph rankings from #4 overall before the trade to #11, but it’s worth noting that they kept Anthony Volpe, Clarke Schmidt, Luis Gil, Luis Medina, Oswald Peraza, and Jasson Dominguez. That, too, is a Cashman special: trade from depth, keep the high-end pieces the team really values.

Third, it clears the offseason’s Rule 5 backlog. Otto, Duran, and Pereira were all Rule 5 eligible after the season. They had tough decisions to make with both Duran and Pereira, and this solves that. Coupled with the earlier trade of Park and Castillo, 5 of the 11 eligible players are now off the docket. Turning your fringe roster pieces into an elite MLB hitter is no joke. (Technically, the Yankees could get some of them back, should Texas not protect them. I’d be shocked if that was the case, though. Why trade for guys you don’t want to protect?)

Fourth, it clears the way for some of the other middle infield prospects like Volpe, Vargas, and Peraza. A backlog isn’t that big of a deal, and you don’t make a trade with this in mind, but I do view this as an implicit endorsement of the talent they kept behind. This opens the door for consistent playing time for all of them.

Finally, preserving the top talent allows for additional moves if necessary – and ones that may take higher-value pieces. Those are chips that could be cashed in the offseason or in a few days. The Yankees still have prospect capital and that is not nothing. Giving up 6 (!) prospects and being able to say that is a testament to the depth in the organization.

Final Thoughts

Well, this is a lot of words. If you couldn’t tell, I quite like the trade. It helps the Yankees now and they didn’t sacrifice a ton of prospect pieces to get it. Some of them may hurt in the long-run. That’s how it goes. I get why Texas took the chance they did. That said, it’s hard not to love this as a Yankee fan. They got better this year and next.

They also managed to stay under the luxury tax threshold, which grosses me out as even a consideration. But alas, that’s the world we live in, and it’s a testament to Cashman that this was able to get done. (I still don’t like the Cessa trade, but whatever. The constraints are the constraints.)

Finally, just as a throwaway line, it is absolutely hilarious that the Yankees cashed in their chips for the 2021 team and not the 2019 one. It’s fine, and I’m glad that this trade happened, of course, but that’s still funny to me and it always will be. Anyway, it’s always a good day when your favorite team improves. That is why we’re all here, isn’t it?

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27 Comments

  1. JG (Ben Francisco)

    I’m fine with the trade. I don’t love adding another oft-injured high strikeout slugger but Gallo is a great hitter, lefty, and very good defender, plus they didn’t give up too much.

  2. Scout

    And now, according to reports, we learn that Texas will continue to pay the salaries of the players coming to New York, and Hal gets to keep under his beloved luxury tax threshold. Of course, that meant giving up more talent, but at least we’re left in no doubt about Hal’s priorities. As I said yesterday, I’m soooo happy for Hal!

  3. Dan A.

    I don’t understand how you can watch this season and think that lineup balance doesn’t matter. I also don’t understand how someone can watch the past 10 years and think that strikeouts don’t matter.

    Anyway, here’s what I like: I like that Gallo is a lefty, I like that he has power, I love that he’s signed through next year. I don’t like that he strikeouts so much, and I don’t like the low BA. If we deal reduce strikeouts elsewhere in the off season (dealing Voit or Sanchez), I’ll be more on board.

  4. Scout

    I like the deal, even though I find Gallo types very frustrating. What I would like to see is the Yankees bring more diversity (read: high-contact, low-strikeout hitters) to the lineup in the next off-season. You can’t remake a team overnight (or in the middle of the season). A return to pre-2021 DJLM would certainly help.

  5. Dani

    I dislike this trade because I hate the type of player Gallo stands for. I can’t stand players that strike out a bazillion times and hit at the Mendoza line. Believe it or not, his .223 avg this year is his 2nd best of his 7 years in the majors. Yikes!
    It’s even worse because the Yanks as a team can’t hit for average, it would be something different if Gallo was the odd man in the lineup that can’t hit.

    Is Gallo clear upgrade to Gardner, Frazier, Andujar? Yes. That’s the only positive thing about this trade.

  6. Dzb

    I really wanted them to trade some of the fringe guys needing roster spots this off-season. This solves that and gets a player under control next year. I don’t live Gallo as the solution, but he’s a massive upgrade to that roster spot. Now let’s hope Voit gets back and we can have the full beast lineup out there.

  7. Wire Fan

    Was lukewarm on this trade when it was 6 prospects. Even if most aren’t big time prospects, trading that man away at once limits the ability to use some of these guys as pieces for other depth moves in the off season. 4 seems like a more reasonable price.

    I think the hidden benefit of this move is about next year. The Yankees desperately need a 2nd MLB starting caliber CF’r on the roster as the odds of Hicks playing more than 100-120 games is slim. When Hicks goes on his annual IL trip(s), they can slide Gallo over (I presume he’ll be in LF if Hicks ever get healthy). Unless they are planning to play Stanton in the OF next year they really need 4 starting caliber OFs given how injury prone the OF is.

  8. Wire Fan

    MLBTR and MLB.com are both saying that is now only 4 prospects going (Pereira and Vasquez staying)

  9. HenryKrinkle

    I can’t argue too much with the revised version of this trade — value for value, but I’m not a fan of the concept of getting Gallo for your big push for the WC. This type of hitter is prone to the type death spiral slumps we’ve seen from Stanton, Sanchez — and even Judge, at times. This isn’t going to be HR derby or highlights from MLB Network. It’s going to be a lot of Ks and a lot of boos before too long unless he gets off to a quick start. Texas is all he’s ever known, and he didn’t want to leave — now the Yankee fans will want results, and I’m afraid he’ll press to try to get them. And please, we need to stop with this nonsense that a low batting ave with a high obp means you’re a good “hitter”. We used up the rest of our payroll to attain another feast or famine slugger and marginal reliever (after giving up two of those). Being a lefty isn’t enough of a difference.

  10. Jacob

    Yea this is a great move I think, even if Gallo completely forgets how to hit a baseball for the next 1.5 years I think the chance of all these prospects giving the rangers a bigger value than he does us is a long shot. Obviously the high K’s aren’t great but with the way the outfield has looked this year other than Judge I’ll take what we can get.

  11. Nick

    Updated rumors have us getting Joelys Rodriguez instead of King while keeping Pereira and Vazquez.

    Pereira is giving me Florial vibes. He’s going to be added to the 40 man roster way too early, but essentially a dead space for a few years and his development could suffer when a ML injury strikes.

  12. Mungo

    Late to this, if that’s possible since the deal is still not final! Looks like pieces are still being changed. It’s now down to four minor leaguers. Duran, Smith, Otto and Hauver. The lefty reliever coming back is Joely Rodriguez. Might as well wait for the final, final to be announced in case there are more changes coming.

    My preference was not another high K guy, but this nevertheless adds a quality bat to the lineup and a strong OF defender. Never want to see Clint out there again.

  13. As someone who hates the ‘3 outcome’ version of baseball I find myself oddly pleased with this trade.

    I think it’s because Gallo is both left handed and a plus defender and left field has been an absolute void for offense all season for the Yankees. The only guy who could hit was Andujar and, let’s face it, he is not a left fielder and makes the memory of Hector Lopez look like Mookie Betts defensively.

    If they plus Gallo in as the every day left fielder and put him between Judge and Stanton it will possibly help all 3 of them. There are only 60 games left and Stanton will likely get hot at some point in time and Judge is still hitting .280. You get one of the non-hitting outfielders out of the lineup or make it possible to pinch hit for them early in games.

    The Yankees have played an unbelievable number of close games this year and have cleaned up the baserunning gaffes and are playing a little better defensively, Chapman actually threw the ball really well today (as well as Luetge and Britton was better) so maybe things are starting to turn around and the addition of Gallo will make a big difference. There is always time to redo the makeup of the team in the off season and create some balance.

  14. Bingo

    Some of the commenters here are failing to understand the 40 man roster crunch.

    You can’t have this many young prospects being on the verge of needing roster spots or you lose them for nothing.

    • Mungo

      Yes. That’s how you end up with Garrett Whitlock pitching on the Red Sox. My only complaint is it took Cashman a couple years to begin cashing in some of these guys.

  15. MikeD

    Nice write up, Bobby, although I’m going to start with an area we disagree: “Gallo is a left-handed hitter. I am not one to put much stock into this, as many of you know. Get the best hitters. Who cares from which side of the plate they take their hacks?”

    Yes, it does matter, IM (not so) HO. You hear someone like David Cone, who has pitched almost 3,000 more innings in the majors than any of us here, say that he found it much easier to lock in his pitches, on the outside corners of the plate when he was facing a lineup of same-sided hitters, be they righties or lefties. Lack of lineup diversity helps the opposition. Also, fielding a team of all righty hitters helps the opposition build part of their roster (i.e, acquire relievers that are effective against righty batters) to counter your lineup. In theory I agree with what your saying. I’d love a righty lineup of Hank Aaron, Joe DiMaggio, Rogers Hornsby, Willie Mays, Albert Pujols, Johnny Bench, Manny being Manny, etc. I’ll go to battle with that every day of the week, yet the Yankees lineup of righties is also flawed. It’s been failure on the part of the front office to counter that. They had the opportunity in the offseason when Frazier had restored his value, Voit’s value was at peak. They didn’t because they’re a slave to the luxury tax threshold. They went with the cheapest options instead of moving pieces when they had the opportunity. That’s not why they’ve been mediocre. They’ve been mediocre because they have multiple black holes in the line up, but the lack of lineup diversity is a failure by the front office.

    Ok, mini rant (long?) out of the way, adding Gallo is good. They’ve added a 140 wRC+ hitter, replacing one of the black holes in the lineup. He’s also a very good fielder, who can cover all three OF positions. My guess is he now becomes the regular LFer, and that’s a good thing. The Yankees do like having a strong fielder in left, the bigger field. Like all fans, I do feel some pain on the prospect price, but they also didn’t give up the Martian, Volpe or any of the higher up prospects.

    • Rich

      Bobby is my favorite writer on the site, but I agree with Mike on this one. Having an impact left-handed will at minimum disturb the planning of opposing managers when bringing in pitchers for the 3 batter minimum. It’s important. Also important is that that you’ll have a natural left-handed stroke at YS3 who will be able to take advantage of the short porch, without changing their swing to go the other way.

  16. Frankie Ho-Tep

    Unpopular opinion: I don’t think it’s possible for me to like this deal less. I mean, I guess none of the top prospects are in the deal, so that’s nice. But there’s no question the Yankees gave up an absolute haul for an extremely flawed player that I don’t think fits well with their roster.

    I just don’t think Gallo gets them any closer to a championship. The Yankees struggle to drive in runs in almost every capacity. They don’t hit home runs (this season) relative to past seasons, they absolutely do not hit with RISP, getting runs in from third with less than two outs, etc.

    I’m glad Gallo can hit home runs and play good D. I seriously am. I just feel like it’s going to get real tired real soon watching the streakiest of streaky hitters struggle to hit .200 even in his BEST year. He can be pitched to too easily.

    He’s more likely to strike out in any given at bat than ANY other outcome. And that’s exactly what he’s going to do when the Yankees are looking for a big hit or even some contact to get a run in.

    Hate this move. Hate it. First guessing. I get all the positives. I get it. I just disagree.

    Edit: Opportunity cost hurts as well. A lot of good players going to Texas that could have been used to bolster the rotation.

    • Knox Nuke

      This is the worst take I have ever seen in my entire life.

      • Frankie Ho-Tep

        Until you came along with absolutely zero to offer other than being a prick. Really well played. Come back with something useful next time.

        Or don’t. I don’t care.

        • Knox Nuke

          One of your first sentences was “I don’t think Gallo gets them any closer to a championship.”

          He’s one of the best hitters and fielders in baseball. Major power, the most walks, and a 140 wRC. How in the world does a player join a team, immediately become no worse than their second best hitter, and it not increase their chances of winning?

          Absolutely makes no sense.

  17. Esteddardban Florial

    Now the one good thing it does is hopefully it means the end of the cooked Brett Gardner. Gallo can play LF and Allen should be starting everyday in CF. But Gardy has about 900 lives so someone else is gonna get hurt soon.

    • Eugene White

      One of the few bright spots in a frustrating season is that after years and years of reading I finally get the Eddard schtick. I feel like I need to reread hundreds of old comments now.

      • JG (Ben Francisco)

        I’m totally Eddard-pilled about the Yankees medical staff and Dr. Ahmad. He showed me the light.

  18. dasit

    fair trade
    would have stung a lot more if it included medina, gil, peraza, or volpe

  19. Esteddardban Florial

    A massive overpay, Bobby. Cash is sending 6, count em, 6 great young prospects for a .220 hitter who strikes out more than Stanton. Sure he might run in to a few in the Stadium but Judge, Stanton, Gallo and Sanchez could strike out 20 times a game! Cash has set up Texas to be a dynasty for one .220 hitter that won’t make this team much better, not when the A’s just got Marte without trading their entire farm. But that’s why Beane is a genius with a best selling book written about him and Cash has to bungee jump from buildings to get attention.

  20. According to Jeff Passan, here is the package for Gallo:
    The Texas Rangers will receive RHP Glenn Otto, 2B Ezequiel Duran, SS Josh Smith and 2B/OF Trevor Hauver as part of the package from the New York Yankees in the Joey Gallo trade, sources tell ESPN.

    Rangers are getting massive haul of prospects in this deal. Others involved, too.

    I normally wouldn’t be in favor of adding this kind of player to the lineup but he can really play the outfield and that is a big plus-just put him in left field and in the lineup every day and the team is going to score more runs.

    It doesn’t seem to me that the Yankees are giving away the store in this deal as well-no Schmidt, no Garcia (ehh), no Volpe, and, of course, no Dominguez.

    Apparently the Yankees are getting one of the Smith Brothers in the deal as well, who is on the major league roster and throws left handed.

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