The New York Yankees were one of those bubble teams heading into Hot Stove season. They weren’t in the best position — barely above .500 in one of the toughest divisions in baseball — but had the tools, money, and prospects to grab players at the deadline and maybe make a late-season push for a Wild Card berth. It wasn’t clear whether or not the Yanks would be buyers or sellers. Would Aaron Judge be sent away? Aroldis Chapman? Gleyber Torres? Or would they opt to trade away some of their prospects to bolster their roster?
Yankees GM Brian Cashman quelled further ambiguity on the situation on June 16 when he described his team as “buyers.” It was clear the Yankees were not going to rebuild. They were going to reload. The only question then was: “Who are they going after?”
One of the Yankees’ biggest problems throughout 2021 has been strikeout rate. Currently, only three teams over .500 have struck out more often than the Bronx Bombers: the Rays, Mariners, and Brewers. While two of those teams can make up for their huge strikeout numbers with stellar pitching and timely hitting, the Yankees don’t have that luxury. It was clear that if the Yankees wanted to contend, they were going to have to make a move for either a strong starter to pair with German and Cole or someone who can reliably get on-base and/or drive in runners already on base. The Yankees opted for the latter.
Let me start by saying I do like this trade. Gallo is someone who can reliably get on base. The two-time All-Star leads all of Major League Baseball in walks (74), and he’s obviously got the kind of power that does wonders in Yankee Stadium. That being said, Gallo, much like several members of the Yankees already, strikes out a ton. Gallo is currently on pace to strike out 199 times this season. His 162-game pace would put Gallo at 213 punchouts. Of all hitters in the league with at least 300 plate appearances in 2021, Gallo strikes out at the third-highest clip. His new teammates Giancarlo Stanton, Gary Sanchez, and Aaron Judge strike out at the 15th, 20th, and 34th highest rates respectively. All three are on a 162-game pace to strike out at least 174 times each. In fact, there are only four active MLB players who have struck out 200 or more times in a season at least once. Are you ready? Here they are:
- Giancarlo Stanton, NYY: 2018
- Aaron Judge, NYY: 2017
- Joey Gallo, TEX: 2018
- Yoan Moncada, CHW: 2018
Yeah, three of the four players to have reached that unholy benchmark are now Yankees. And the only reason Gary Sanchez has never reached that mark is because he plays catcher — a position notorious for needing consistent days of rest. Basically, Gary Sanchez hasn’t played enough in any season to reach 200 K’s, but was on pace to do so in 2020.
I know it sounds like I’m attacking the Yankees for making such a horrible trade, but I want to make it clear that I don’t think it’s a horrible trade. Joey Gallo’s presence in any lineup gives opposing pitchers less room to breathe. That’s never a bad thing, but I find it crazy that the Yankees would want to go after someone “like Gallo” when they’ve already got three hitters “like Gallo.” I know in my MLB trade deadline predictions piece I said I believed the Yankees would trade for him, but that was mainly because of rumors and speculation. If you’d asked me two months ago before rumors started swirling, I wouldn’t have thought for a second that the Yankees would go after someone like Gallo, simply because… they already had three of him.
I’ll be interested to see if New York makes any other trades prior to the deadline. It’s clear they’re going to need more than Gallo if they want to compete in the AL East. One thing’s for sure though: the Yankees definitely don’t need another “high-power, high-whiff rate” guy. Adding another hitter like that would just be overkill at that point, right?
Oh. I guess not.