ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, reticent to part with some of the top prospects in his organization, made a big splash before Friday’s trade deadline nonetheless.
A really big one.
Multiple sources confirmed that the Yankees reached a deal Wednesday night for Rangers outfielder Joey Gallo, who has hit 25 homers this season but has also struck out 125 times in 310 at-bats. Still, Gallo unquestionably is a significant upgrade for the Yankees’ dire outfield situation.
Not to mention for the Yankees’ still-inconsistent offense, which for the umpteenth time this season did not distinguish itself, though Aaron Judge’s RBI single in the 10th inning brought in Gio Urshela and gave the Yankees the lead for good in a 3-1 victory over the Rays on Wednesday night in front of 11,525 at Tropicana Field.
Up until the single by Judge, who was scratched from the lineup as he did not arrive at the ballpark until after about 6 p.m. because of a doctor’s appointment that ran late but was inserted in the fifth inning in place of Estevan Florial, the Yankees (53-47) were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
Greg Allen, hit by a pitch to start the inning, scored later in the inning on a wild pitch to make it 3-1. Aroldis Chapman walked a batter in the bottom half but got out of it for his 20th save in 24 tries.
The news of the day, however, from the perspective of the Yankees, winners in the first two games of this series, hands-down was the Gallo acquisition.
"That was a no-brainer for them," one rival executive said.
The deal won’t become official until the 6-5, 250-pound Gallo, as well as all the players involved in the deal, are cleared medically, a process that should not drag out too long.
Among the prospects the Yankees sent to the Rangers for the 27-year-old Gallo, who is under team control through 2022, are second baseman Ezequiel Duran, shortstop Josh Smith, righty pitcher Glen Otto and second baseman/outfielder Trevor Hauver.
The trade was, not surprisingly, a topic of conversation in the clubhouse afterward.
Though Aaron Boone declined to address Gallo in any way after the game, DJ LeMahieu, in saying the topic came up during the game and, obviously, was still being talked about, said "it would be awesome" to add a bat of Gallo’s caliber to the lineup
Judge, with a smile, said: "Wow, a guy that can hit it out of any ballpark."
The Rangers, desperately trying to rebuild what is generally considered one of the weakest minor-league systems in the game, were looking for a large haul of prospects to infuse into that system and were successful in that regard.
Still, for the Yankees, this deal was entirely about 2021 and trying to salvage something from what has been a disappointing season.
The reasons for that have been many but an inconsistent offense that has mostly underperformed heads the list. According to baseball researcher Katie Sharp, Gallo’s 138 homers since 2017 are the most by any lefthanded batter over the last five seasons and the Yankees for several years have salivated over what his smooth swing might look like at Yankee Stadium with its famous short porch in right.
Gallo, in addition to providing the Yankees a much-needed lefthanded-hitting presence in their righty-heavy lineup, is also a Gold Glove-winning outfielder, which will benefit what has been a poor defensive club in 2021.
The Yankees came into Wednesday night 8½ games behind the AL East-leading Red Sox but only three games behind the A’s for the second wild-card spot. Oakland landed another Yankees trade target, Marlins outfielder Starling Marte, earlier in the day.
Indications are Cashman, who dealt Luis Cessa and Justin Wilson to the Reds for a player to be named — mainly to clear Wilson’s $4 million salary off the books — may not be done before Friday’s deadline.
The Yankees, though well behind Boston at the moment, look at an American League that has some good teams but none without flaws, and still see a path, if they can just get into the postseason, to their first World Series appearance since 2009.