MLB insider reveals 2 positions New York Yankees may target at trade deadline; 4 potential candidates

New York Yankees
Credit: Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees are one of the best teams in baseball this year, but there are always improvements that can be made to a World Series contender. While the MLB trade deadline is a few weeks away, there are reportedly two positions emerging for the Yankees trade targets in 2024.

The good news is that Gerrit Cole will soon rejoin the team, filling the void left in the rotation by the Clarke Schmidt injury. Plus, Juan Soto and Aaron Judge have largely carried the Yankees lineup in 2024. However, there are some clear weaknesses on the Yankees roster right now.

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Appearing on Fox Sports 1, senior MLB reporter Ken Rosenthal first highlighted the Yankees bullpen as something the front office is interested in improving ahead of the MLB trade deadline.

“Bullpen is going to be one thing. They are 2nd in the majors in bullpen ERA, but bottom 10 in strikeout rate from the bullpen. So they’d like a little more swing-and-miss.”

Ken Rosenthal on the New York Yankees’ interest in relief pitching ahead of the MLB trade deadline

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  • New York Yankees bullpen stats (FanGraphs): 3.05 ERA (3rd in MLB), 1.17 WHIP (5th), 12.3% K-BB rate (21st), 21.9% K-rate (22nd), 11.6% Swinging Strike Rate (13th)

While the ERA is in excellent shape, teams do tend to emphasize strikeout rates and other metrics to gauge how successful their bullpen can be long-term. New York clearly knows what it needs, but there’s another potential position that could make it among the Yankees trade targets in 2024.

“One thing they are watching closely is Anthony Rizzo, who has struggled by any metric you want to use. He’s a guy that is turning 35 in August and the question is, if this a bad couple or months or is this a sharp decline?”

Ken Rosenthal on the New York Yankees potentially looking for an Anthony Rizzo replacement

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  • Anthony Rizzo stats (2024): .224/.285/.339, 82 wRC+, 5.6% BB rate, .623 OPS

Rizzo isn’t providing anything positive for New York defensively and he’s currently a big hole in the Yankees lineup. As a result, whether it is replacing him directly or moving DJ LeMahieu to first base and pursuing a third baseman, an upgrade will likely be pursued.

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Identifying potential Yankees trade targets

Oakland Athletics closer Mason Miller will rightfully headline most list of Yankees trade targets and for good reason. However, it’s hard to believe New York would unload its farm system for a reliever, so we’re focusing on other targets who would be more cost-effective.

  • Yimi Garcia, Toronto Blue Jays: In the last year of his deal, the Toronto Blue Jays shouldn’t have any reservations about trading 33-year-old reliever Yimi Garcia within the division. This year, Garcia is responsible for the 11th-highest strikeout rate (35.1 percent) among qualified delivers and of that group, he’s one of only five with a sub-2.1 ERA. He’d be a very affordable addition for New York.
  • Fernando Cruz, Cincinnati Reds: Similar to Garcia, Fernando Cruz has been one of the best swing-and-miss relievers in baseball this season. The 34-year-old is joined by Mason Miller as the only two qualified delivers with a strikeout rate above 30 percent. While he does have an 11.5 percent walk rate, Cruz is also holding opponents to a .167 batting average. Plus, in addition to the multiple years of contract control, Cruz does a good job keeping the ball on the ground (32.1% groundball rate).
  • Christian Walker, Arizona Diamondbacks – Circumstances (contract and the MLB standings) are the only reasons why Christian Walker could be available. The Arizona Diamondbacks are out of the playoff hunt right now and Walker is a free agent this winter. He owns a higher OPS (.799) and wOBA (.349) than Pete Alonso and Walker ranks in the 92nd percentile for Fielding Run Value and the 96th percentile for Outs Above Average. He’s better than Anthony Rizzo in every way.
  • Ryan McMahon, Colorado Rockies: If the Yankees are going to hunt for a big addition, Ryan McMahon is one of the top players we’d target. Under team control through 2027, McMahon ranks in the 98th percentile for average exit velocity and the 97th percentile for Hard-Hit rate. That’s to say there’s even more untapped potential in his bat (.780 OPS) and the third baseman could reach another level with the Yankees.

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