We’re exactly two months away from Major League Baseball’s trade deadline on August 2, and while the first place New York Yankees have been rolling through the first portion of the season, they could certainly use a few upgrades in some areas on their roster.
Due to the injuries in their bullpen, this is an obvious place to add a reinforcement. But this unit will likely get healthier in the coming months—minus Chad Green (Tommy John surgery)—so it might not be that big of a need once the deadline approaches.
What appears to be imminent is the end of the Aaron Hicks era in the Bronx. Center field is a spot where the Yankees must improve before they gear up for the stretch run, and that means replacing Hicks with a better option in center.
Hicks is coming off a brutal month, batting .127 in May. His season slash line is .207/.331/.240 with a .571 OPS, one home run and seven RBIs in 42 games. He has been even worse with runners in scoring position with a .107 batting average. The 32-year-old has been a major disappointment since signing a seven-year, $70 million extension.
Beyond Aaron Judge, outfield has become a weakness for the Yankees with Hicks and Joey Gallo struggling immensely. It’s more reason for New York to displace Hicks, and the one name that comes to mind is Pittsburgh Pirates centerfielder Bryan Reynolds.
Reynolds was a hot commodity at last year’s deadline as he endured an All-Star campaign, slugging 24 homers and driving in 90 RBIs with a .912 OPS overall in 2021. But the 27-year-old did not get moved.
To avoid arbitration prior to 2022, Reynolds signed a two-year extension worth $13.5 million, and is under cheap control with the Pirates until the end of the 2025 season. Reynolds has seen a significant drop off in production this season (.220 average, .725 OPS, eight homers, 14 RBIs), so the rebuilding Pirates might want to sell him off before his trade value dips any further.
The upside, age and years of control could still get Pittsburgh a good return, and from the Yankees’ perspective, they’d be adding a switch-hitting centerfielder who has been an All-Star in the past. With better protection in a stacked lineup, there’s a good chance that Reynolds can get back on track.
Eventually, the Yankees are going to wind up having to eat the rest of Hicks’ contract, which has been a disaster from the start. In the short term, they cannot continue to give him meaningful at-bats, and must add another outfielder, preferably a centerfielder, prior to the deadline.
Reynolds seems like the best fit, and an affordable one.
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