It’s MLB All-Star Week, and that means the MLB Trade Deadline is looming. So it’s time to take a look at the key names that the Yankees can acquire to bolster their championship contending roster. We spoke a lot about the Yankees’ trade deadline needs on last week’s Podcast episode of ‘NYY Takes,’ which you can listen to here.
One of the areas that needs some help is the Outfield.
Yankees May Not Pursue Benintendi, Per Reports
There have been plenty of rumors linking Andrew Benintendi to the Yankees. It’s been reported, though, that the Yankees are unlikely to purse the left-handed outfielder due to not being vaccinated.
Whether there’s much credence to that report, Benintendi would be a good (not great) addition to this Yankees roster. He’s nothing special in the outfield and can only play at the corners. He has had a solid season at the dish, though. He has slashed .317/.386/.401 with three home runs and a .350 xwOBA this season.
Those are certainly solid numbers, but there are two things that should concern Yankees fans (beyond the fact that he cannot play games in Toronto unless he gets vaccinated). First, his power is practically non-existent. He sports a pretty awful .084 ISO and has only swatted three home runs.
While the Yankees don’t necessarily need a power bat, Benintendi only brings high contact skills and a below-average presence in the outfield. Secondly, Benintendi doesn’t give the Yankees much flexibility in the outfield. You can’t put him anywhere but left field (maybe right), so you’d be looking at an outfield of Benintendi, Judge and Stanton more than a handful of times. That shouldn’t put Yankees fans’ minds at ease.
All About That Upside
The Yankees should aim higher, and that is where Ramon Laureano enters the frame. The first thing worth mentioning with Laureano is that he is under arbitration for the 2023, 2024 and 2025 seasons, Benintendi is a rental. In some ways, Laureano provides some insurance should Aaron Judge choose to bolt in the off-season. Laureano will cost more because of it, but it might be worth it.
Laureano is quietly having a nice season. He is slashing .236/.320/.413 with a .349 xwOBA and a 115 wRC+. Now, those numbers aren’t amazing, but there’s plenty of room for optimism. Since June 25th, he has put up a 145 wRC+ with seven home runs and a .367 wOBA with a .532 slugging percentage.
With either of Benintendi or Laureano, you’ll have to live with some stark platoon splits. Laureano has a 176 wRC+ against lefties and a 92 wRC+ against righties, while Beintendi has a 97 wRC+ versus lefties and a 139 WRC+ vs righties.
There’s certainly an argument for Benintendi that makes conventionally more sense for the Yankees. He’s a left-handed, low strikeout contact-centric hitter. He doesn’t chase, doesn’t swing and miss, and definitely fits in nicely to a lineup dominated by power righty bats.
But if he can’t play games in Toronto, where the Yankees may end up in mid-October, and cannot play center field (like Laureano) then the addition might not be such a needle-mover.
Laureano provides more power with his bat, has hit well since mid-June, and is under contract through next season. He can play center field and is a notoriously passionate player, and one who could fall into strong favor with Yankees fans. Andrew Benintendi would be a solid addition, but Laureano provides an upside which Benintendi can’t.