New Left Field Option Emerges For New York Yankees on Trade Market
When Daulton Varsho was traded by Diamond back to Blue Jays last week, the list of options for Yankees and theirs the ongoing search for a starting left fielder became even shorter.
Warsaw profiled as an exceptional fit striped, an answer to New York’s insecurity on the field and a versatile piece with a lot of team control.
As one door closes, however, another may have opened.
Arizona traded Varsho because of their glut of outfielders. When reports first surfaced that the Yankees were among a slew of teams showing interest in Arizona’s outfielders, that group also included Alek Thomas and Jake McCarthy. Factor in top prospects Corbin Carroll, Kyle Lewis and more and this team is loaded with young talent at the position.
There comes this new option, a familiar face in the American League East.
Top prospect Gabriel Moreno was the centerpiece of Toronto’s package in the Varsho trade, receiving most of the attention. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. was also part of the deal, a veteran who can play all over the diamond and put the ball in play. Gurriel brings an experienced presence to a position group with very little big league experience for Arizona, a boost to the offense if the 29-year-old can return from a power outage in 2022.
That said, is Gurriel really a good fit for Arizona? The Diamondbacks are on the rise, but they need some time to get it together and solidify their way into contention. They could make a bigger jump than expected in 2023, but there’s no guarantee of a split with the Dodgers, Padres and Giants. Gurriel will enter free agency after the 2023 season, so in all likelihood, he won’t be around by the time Arizona recognizes that potential.
Using Gurriel for one season under his contract could prevent the Diamondbacks from giving their young players enough playing time, preventing them from developing at the big league level. If Arizona were to bring Gurriel back, the return won’t be shocking, but at least they’ll be getting something instead of watching him walk the open market in a year.
That’s where the Yankees come in.
We knew general manager Brian Cashman would have to get creative at this point to add a left fielder. The vast majority of the free agent market is off the table and while other pieces may be available in a trade –like Bryan Reynolds— the asking price for the best assets will be high. Again, just look at what Toronto had to give up to trade for Warsaw.
Gurriel is not a perfect solution for the Yankees. He’s not a left-handed hitter, he doesn’t work walks, he doesn’t steal bases, and he’s not a good defender (minus-2 outs above average in left field in 2022).
However, just because Gurriel isn’t a lefty doesn’t mean the Yankees shouldn’t take a look at it. New York is at the point where they have to be open for anything — or Aaron Hicks will be running to left field before the first pitch on Opening Day.
Gurriel slashed .291/.343/.400 in 121 games in 2022. He hit just five home runs (after a career-high 21 in 2021), but he underwent wrist surgery after the season, a procedure that fixed an injury that may have contributed to his downfall. His low strikeout rate (16.8 percent) and hard contact numbers (90.6 mph average exit velocity, 45.7 slugging rate) would suit New York.
The Yankees would be better off trading for Thomas or McCarthy if they want a lefty with contact skills, a reliable glove and long-term upside. After all, they have the right-handed hitting infielders to make that kind of deal happen. But remember, the price for those parts will be high.
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