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4 New York Yankees trade targets to strengthen the best team in MLB

MLB: New York Yankees at Tampa Bay Rays
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees sit atop the MLB standings with the All-Star Break closing in. Holding a massive lead in the AL East with a spot in the MLB postseason, executive Brian Cashman should be seeking moves that make this club even stronger.

It might not seem at the surface level like New York needs to do anything. Entering play on July 9, the Yankees first in OPS (.770), runs scored (439) and home runs (143). In addition, New York held the second-highest team ERA (2.95) and ranked third in FanGraphs’ Defensive Runs Above Average (15.6).

However, no team is perfect. The daily Yankees lineup often features multiple players who are underwhelming at the plate, including Josh Donaldson (.231/.318/.412), Isiah Kiner-Falefa (85 wRC+) and Joey Gallo (83 wRC+, .166/.285/.341).

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While a few of these players can retain primary roles, recent matchups against the Houston Astros proved there is some room to improve. Pair that with the long-term outlook for the rotation, there are a few potential trade options the New York Yankees could explore this summer.

Here are four potential Yankees trade targets.

Luis Castillo traded to New York Yankees

MLB: Cincinnati Reds at Chicago Cubs
Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Many rightfully feel confident in the New York Yankees rotation right now. Gerrit Cole (3.26 ERA), Nestor Cortes (2.74 ERA), Luis Severino (3.11 ERA) and Jordan Montgomery (3.19 ERA) are thriving this year. Over the course of the regular season, there wouldn’t seemingly be a need for another starter.

New York needs to think about October. While Cole can be trusted in the postseason, there are more risks with the others. After a dominant start to the campaign, Cortes holds a 5.34 ERA with a 1.36 WHIP and .274 batting average allowed in his last six starts. As for Severino, he’s already at 84 innings pitched after combining to throw just 18 MLB innings in the past two seasons.

  • Cincinnati Reds trade: Luis Castillo
  • New York Yankees trade: Oswald Peraza, Ken Waldichuk

Plenty of fans might not like the price of this deal, especially since Luis Castillo isn’t viewed as an ace. Take a closer look at his production this season, especially as of late. Castillo’s fastball velocity is in the 91st percentile (Baseball Savant). Among starting pitchers since May 20, he ranks 11th in ERA (2.49), 15th in strikeout rate (26.4%) and he has allowed the sixth-lowest barrel rate (4.2%).

Keep in mind that he is doing all of this with a majority of his starts coming in the most hitter-friendly ballpark in baseball. Under team control through the 2023 season, Castillo could be the Yankees’ No. 2 starter for the next two years.

David Peralta strengthens New York Yankees outfield depth

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at Colorado Rockies
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

There are a lot of MLB trade rumors surrounding Kansas City Royals outfielder Andrew Benintendi. He is the No. 1 target for many teams with MLB insiders pointing to him as the perfect target for New York. In a scenario where the Yankees acquire Castillo to fortify the rotation, we’ll address the outfield with a more affordable option.

Related: MLB scout says New York Yankees should trade ‘almost anything’ for Andrew Benintendi

Similar to Benintendi, David Peralta is a free agent after the season. While the 34-year-old isn’t the same caliber of hitter, he is still reliable with the bat and he’d provide New York with a massive upgrade defensively. Most importantly, he’ll cost a lot less to acquire.

  • New York Yankees trade: Luis Gil, Antonio Gomez, JP Sears
  • Arizona Diamondbacks trade: David Peralta

The numbers speak for themselves. Peralta, a lefty, ranks in the 92nd percentile for Outs Above Average and is in the 71st percentile for Outfielder Jump. A Gold Glove Award winner in 2019, Peralta also delivers a respectable 109 wRC+ with a .772 OPS in a less hitter-friendly environment.

David Robertson returns to New York

MLB: Chicago Cubs at New York Yankees
Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

There is no such thing as having too much bullpen talent. Aroldis Chapman comes with injury risk and we’ve seen him struggle before. While Clay Holmes is electric as the closer, New York could fortify the bridge that reaches him in the ninth inning or in clutch situations.

David Robertson is proving himself once again in his age-37 season. The 2.10 ERA is impressive, but his .149 batting average allowed is far more remarkable. While walks (12.1% BB rate) are a bit of an issue, he still misses a lot of bats (31.9% strikeout rate) and his 49.3% groundball rate fits perfectly with the Yankees’ infield.

  • New York Yankees trade: Brock Selvidge, Deivi Garcia
  • Chicago Cubs trade: David Robertson

The 37-year-old righty posted a 2.75 ERA across nine seasons with the Yankees, becoming one of the best relievers in baseball. Years later, he has rediscovered himself in Chicago and a return to Yankee Stadium could be in the cards. Given the real impact playing for this team has had on players, it’s a wise move to acquire a veteran reliever with a history of performing in the pinstripes.

Victor Robles improves outfield defense

MLB: Washington Nationals at Miami Marlins
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

New York already fields one of the best defenses in baseball, largely because of Trevino and Josh Donaldson. However, it’s reasonable to think there are improvements that can be made in center field and more speed on the bench could be another huge plus.

  • Washington Nationals receive: Estevan Florial, Deivi Garcia
  • New York Yankees receive: Victor Robles

Ranking in the 87th percentile for sprint speed, Robles would become a weapon for New York off the bench. He could serve as a pinch runner late in games, replacing the likes of Giancarlo Stanton on the basepaths. He would also offer the most range in the outfield, further enhancing an outstanding defense that will save plenty of runs and turn doubles into outs.