Just because the Yankees have played themselves out of the division race doesn’t mean that they can’t buy at this Friday’s deadline. For one, they’re still hanging around the Wild Card hunt, even if that hold is tenuous. Two, and perhaps more importantly, the team should eye players that can also help them next year. The Rangers’ Joey Gallo represents just that.
Background & Performance
Gallo, 27, was the Rangers’ first round-supplemental pick in 2012 out of high school. The Nevada-born Gallo annihilated minor league pitching and made the majors by 2015, when he was just 21 years-old. He didn’t stick until a couple of seasons later, but now, he’s become a terrific player on both sides of the ball. He’s one of the league’s premier power hitters and is a terrific defender too.
At the plate, the left-handed hitting Gallo owns a lifetime .211/.336/.496 (116 wRC+) and has swatted 144 homers in 2,169 plate appearances. He’s got a couple of 40 home run seasons under his belt (2017 and 2018) and is on his way to another this year (24 so far). This year’s offensive performance rivals his 2019 campaign, when he was an absolute monster in an injury-shortened season.
- 2019: .253/.389/.598, 144 wRC+, 22 HR in 297 PA, 17.5/38.4 BB/K%
- 2021: .222/.380/.484, 139 wRC+, 24 HR in 384 PA, 19.3/32.3 BB/K%
The power was better in ’19, but as a reminder, that was the rocket-ball year. And it’s not like he’s slouching in terms of power this season, of course. Plus, he’s walking more and striking out less often this season.
Those strikeout rates north of 30 percent surely will freak out many folks, and understandably so. The Yankees already have a bunch of high strikeout players. Don’t we want to see some lineup diversity? Yes, I too would prefer not another guy who strikes out this much. But at the same time, the Yankees don’t have any lefty power in the lineup. Gallo is a prolific left-handed slugger that the Yankees badly need, even with the big swing-and-miss in his game.
By the way, Gallo is more than just an acquisition to help the lineup through 2022. He’s a great defensive outfielder too. Gallo won the Gold Glove in right field last year and already has +6 OAA at the position in 2021. He can also play a fine center field — 0 OAA in 410.2 innings — and we know how badly the Yankees need help in that spot. Gallo’s got one of the sport’s best throwing arms, gets good jumps (90th percentile), and can run fairly well (56th percentile sprint speed).
There could be some potential versatility in the corner infield spots, too. Texas drafted him as a third baseman, which is what he made the majors as. He hasn’t played at the hot corner since 2017, and to be fair, he rated pretty poorly there according to OAA. Gallo played some first base in 2016, 2017, and 2018 too. He may not be a plus option there, and there’s probably some rust to shake off, but perhaps he could at least be used as need in those spots.
Gallo has been on the injured list three times in his career. In 2017, he missed eight days due to a concussion. His least-healthy season was 2019, when he missed 23 days due to an oblique injury and 68 days because of wrist surgery. This year, he’s dealt with a couple of minor leg injuries that sidelined him for just a few days. Nothing IL-related.
Gallo signed for $6.2 million this season and is owed less than half of that amount the rest of the way. Next year will be his final arbitration season, meaning that he’s not a free agent until after 2022. That means the Yankees can acquire roughly a year-and-a-half of Gallo right now.
The Rangers are reportedly trying to sign Gallo to an extension, which may be the team’s ultimatum. Sign now at our price or we’re going to trade you. Or, hey Rangers fans: we tried. I don’t think the Scott Boras client is signing an extension now.
What would a trade look like?
There aren’t many good trade comps for a player like Gallo with a year-and-change of team control left. The two most recent midseason deals of players with similar contract statuses are last year’s Starling Marte trade and 2018’s Jonathan Schoop trade.
Last year, the Diamondbacks sent Marte (who had a 2021 club option) to the Marlins for:
- 3.5 years of LHP Caleb Smith
- 6 years of Humberto Mejía
- A-ball LHP Julio Frias
In 2018, the Orioles dealt Schoop to Milwaukee for:
- 2.5 years of INF Jonathan Villar
- Double-A RHP Luis Ortiz (MLB top-100 prospect)
- Rookie-ball SS Jean Carmona
Marte was a far better player than Schoop at the time of the trade, and yet, Schoop fetched a better return. Marte is also far more comparable as a player to Gallo than Schoop, and in fact, Marte actually may be a better player overall. So, it’s pretty hard to look at these two deals and mimic them from the Yankees perspective.
So that was helpful, huh? In any case, I’ll throw my trade proposal at the wall and see if it sticks: SS Oswald Peraza, RHP Deivi García, LHP Ken Waldichuk, and RHP Alexander Vizcaíno.
I have nothing to lose here, so sure, why not. One top-100 prospect on the upswing (Peraza), one top-100 prospect who’s seen his stock fall (García), a breakout arm (Waldichuk), and a big arm in Vizcaíno.