Joey Gallo is bound for the Bronx.
The Yankees officially acquired the Rangers slugger on Thursday for a haul of prospects: 2B Ezequiel Duran, 2B/OF Trevor Hauver, SS Josh Smith and RHP Glen Otto. Texas is also parting with reliever Joely Rodríguez and cash considerations.
The deal cements New York’s status as buyers and reaffirms the organization’s belief that it can make a playoff run despite a disappointing 53-47 record to this point. The Yankees are third in the American League East (8.5 games out) and trailing the Rays, A’s and Mariners in the Wild Card race (2.5 games out).
Adding a player of Gallo’s caliber will improve the Yankees on both sides of the ball, but some are concerned about his fit in New York given his profile as an extreme Three True Outcomes hitter. That is to say that Gallo…
- Hits home runs a lot. He averages one every 12.4 at-bats, tied for fifth in MLB this year.
- Strikes out a lot. His 32.2 K% is a career-low, but second-worst in the majors.
- Walks a lot. His 19.1 BB% is the best in baseball.
If that makeup, with Gallo’s lowly .223 average thrown in, sounds familiar to a Yankees lineup that has struggled partly due to a lack of balanced approaches, you wouldn’t be entirely wrong. But the 27-year-old brings a lot that this team has been missing, and not just on the offensive side of the ball.
Let’s start with the obvious: Gallo bops, and he does it from the left side.
That’s key for the Yankees, who have received scant production from their left-handed hitters this season. Consider that New York’s port-side hitters have combined for 22 home runs. Gallo hit 25 for Texas.
He gives the Yankees the left-handed power bat they were missing, someone who can truly exploit the short right field porch in the Bronx. No left-handed batter has more home runs over the last five seasons than Gallo’s 138, per Stathead’s Katie Sharp, but he will improve more than just New York’s slugging from that side of the plate.
Here’s how some of Gallo’s other numbers stack up against New York’s collective lefties:
(Stats in tweet are prior to New York’s Wednesday night win over the Rays)
As previously mentioned, Gallo leads the majors with a 19.1 BB%. That’s also a career-high for the seven-year veteran.
Even with his vast strikeout numbers, Gallo’s .379 OBP is among the game’s top 20, and his .374 wOBA is among the top 25. The only other incumbent Yankee that can say that is Aaron Judge (.375 OBP, .383 wOBA).
The Yankees already led the majors in BB% and were top-10 in OBP and top-15 in wOBA, but it never hurts to add a player who gets on base a ton.
Avoiding Double Plays
Gallo’s Three True Outcome makeup could create more opportunities for a Yankees team that leads the majors with 97 double plays grounded into.
Being a TTO player means you hardly do anything besides homer, walk and strike out. That also means not hitting many ground balls. In fact, Gallo has grounded into just nine double plays in his entire, 568-game, 2,173-plate appearance career. The Yankees have five players who have grounded into at least as many double plays this season, and it’s a big reason why their offense has faltered at times despite getting on-base a lot.
Stellar Defense and Versatility
Gallo is coming off the first Gold Glove of his career. And while he has only played right field and DH this season, he is more than capable of playing center, a position the Yankees have needed help at since losing Aaron Hicks.
Gallo posted a 3.1 UZR with two DRS as a center fielder in 2019, the last time he saw regular action in the middle of the outfield. Those numbers are not quite as good as his numbers in right field (with far more chances), but the Yankees shouldn’t hesitate to put Gallo in center if that’s what gets the best offensive lineup on paper.
While he hasn’t played the infield since 2018, Gallo can also man first and third in a pinch, as well as left field. He gives the Yankees added versatility.
Control Beyond 2021
Gallo is not a rental, which partly explains the large and talented package the Yankees gave up to get him.
Still arbitration eligible, Gallo won’t be a free agent until after the 2022 season. That makes this trade about the present and future and ensures that the Yankees will have all of Gallo’s aforementioned skills—elements that they have lacked in recent years—for a full season next year.
This is more about the Rangers wanting to maximize their prospect return than it is about Gallo directly helping the Yankees, but this trade came with significant cash considerations.
The Rangers are paying the remainder of Rodríguez and Gallo’s 2021 salaries, according to the New York Post’s Joel Sherman. For Competitive Balance Tax purposes, that’s about $1.03 million for Rodríguez and $2.3 million for Gallo.
The Yankees have made great efforts to remain under the $210 million CBT threshold; they would incur costly penalties if their payroll surpassed that. Per Cot’s Baseball Contracts, the team had $2,368,827 in tax space prior to the Gallo deal.
In other words, the Yankees still have room to make more moves while adhering to their preferred spending restrictions. That’s key, as they need to add upgrades beyond Gallo before Friday’s 4 p.m. trade deadline.
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