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Did the Yankees Make a Mistake Trading Tyler Wade?

The New York Yankees traded utility man Tyler Wade to the Los Angeles Angels this week. Did the Yankees make a mistake moving Wade or was it the right move?

One day after the Yankees announced they had traded Tyler Wade to the Los Angeles Angels, the infielder took to social media, penning a heartfelt goodbye to the organization that he's called home for nearly a decade.

"I can’t thank the fans enough for embracing me and making me feel apart of the city," Wade wrote. "You guys raised me and made me feel like family."

Let's be honest, though. There hasn't always been love and affection flowing from Yankees fans in Wade's direction over the years. 

Since Wade made his MLB debut back in 2017, a significant portion of New York's rabid fan base has consistently criticized the speedster, calling for his removal while pointing out his shortcomings. 

Until 2021, Wade hadn't played in more than 52 games in a single season. He frequently occupied a spot on the big-league roster, used sparingly but often in the most important circumstances (like pinch-running or coming on as a defensive replacement late in ballgames).

That in mind, countless fans rejoiced this week, seeing Wade's departure finally come to fruition. Others pondered why New York elected to part ways with their most versatile asset, reflecting on what his absence will mean for the Yankees' unathletic roster.

So, as Wade packs his bags for a fresh start in Anaheim, let's break down whether or not the Yankees made a mistake trading away Tyler Wade.

New York is better without Wade and this trade should've happened years ago

If that sentence got you zoomed up, thinking of uncompetitive at-bats, booted grounders and mistakes on the base paths, you're not alone.

Wade finished his five-year stint in pinstripes slashing .212/.298/.307 with six home runs and 129 strikeouts over 264 games. Take away 2021—a year full of career highs for Wade—and those numbers are even worse.

Sure, Wade wasn't on the Yankees to hit for power or stuff the stat sheet with dynamic performances. His job was to provide depth and sprinkle speed and athleticism onto a roster that doesn't exactly excel on defense and relies heavily on the home run ball. But beyond an occasional stolen base or a few innings on defense here and there, Wade was taking up a roster spot. That's the very reason New York cut ties with Wade in the first place, making space on the 40-man roster to protect a prospect from the Rule 5 Draft.

READ: Yankees Designate Clint Frazier, Rougned Odor, Tyler Wade For Assignment

With a handful of infielders inching closer to the big leagues in the farm system—namely Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza, two of the Yankees' top three prospects—Wade's days in pinstripes were already numbered, realistically. He isn't getting any younger—Wade turned 27 on Tuesday—and the presence (and upside) of those prospects makes a bench piece like Wade expendable.

Another prospect, Oswaldo Cabrera, is even closer to making it to the big leagues (and was added to the 40-man roster just a few days ago, corresponding to when the Yankees designated Wade for assignment). Reaching Triple-A last year, Cabrera can play third, short and second, he's a switch-hitter, steals bases and has some pop. 

Getting rid of Wade makes room for new faces in the Bronx, ensuring their potential—which in all likelihood exceeds what Wade has done in pinstripes—isn't blocked. Heck, maybe this is the year where Estevan Florial finally has a full-time role in the big leagues, a left-handed bat with speed just like Wade.

Besides, New York is planning to sign a shortstop this offseason regardless. With Gio Urshela proving he can fill in at short in a pinch, moving Gleyber Torres over to second, the need for Wade defensively has decreased. DJ LeMahieu can satisfy New York's infield depth and the return of Aaron Hicks in center field lessens a need for Wade in the outfield as well.

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We're talking about a player that barreled up one pitch at the plate all season in 2021, per Statcast. He also contributed minus-5 Defensive Runs Saved at shortstop and minus-4 DRS at second base, a liability on both sides of the ball.

New York can seek out a new utility man this offseason and at least they were able to recoup some value for Wade, whether it turns out to be cash considerations or a player to be named later.

Trading Wade was a mistake and New York will regret this decision in 2022 and beyond

Maybe Wade didn't set the league on fire with his production, but his value was on full display this year.

Wade led the team in steals (17), made a handful of game-winning plays on the bases as a pinch-runner and filled in formidably at almost every position across the diamond. No matter how you look at it, he influenced plenty of ballgames, appearing in 103 contests (ninth-most on the Yankees in 2021).

His numbers on offense weren't great, but he took a step in the right direction this year, hitting .268 (a career high) with 31 runs scored and six extra base hits.

In fact, there was a stretch this summer where Wade was legitimately one of New York's most consistent players on offense. In the month of August, Wade hit .457 (16-for-35) over 18 games (12 starts) with 10 runs scored, seven steals and four doubles. 

The Yankees went 15-3 in those 18 games.

Obviously, that's a small sample size. Any player at this level can get hot. But that stretch in August was proof that with more opportunity, Wade was capable of producing respectable numbers. He said it himself.

"Just more opportunity. Obviously, seeing stuff fall, confidence,” Wade explained in late August. “I would just say being in the lineup more often and being in the flow of the game.”

It makes you wonder what Wade is capable of if he played everyday, or at least more often than he has in previous years.

Even if Wade's contributions statistically were below league average, not every team has a player that's capable of serving in a super-utility role. New York is going to miss Wade's elite speed—the Yankees as of now do not have a single speed threat on their big-league roster—and his undeniable defensive versatility. 

Factor in the departures of several bench players—Andrew Velazquez, Tim Locastro, Greg Allen, Clint Frazier and Rougned Odor—and it makes you wonder what exactly New York is planning when it comes to their depth in 2022.

Losing someone like Wade isn't going to have a significant impact on a team's pursuit of a title, but there will be moments throughout the season where manager Aaron Boone wishes he has Wade on his bench, eager to snap into action and make an impact, no matter when his number was called. 

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