If the Yankees want to move Gallo, now is the time

I’m going to preface what I‘m about to write with this:

I still think Joey Gallo is a good baseball player who’s going to provide plenty of value for his team in his career. You don’t go from being in the MVP discussion at age 25 (which Gallo certainly would have been if he didn’t get injured in 2019) to not being able to hit at age 28. Betting on a turnaround is certainly a better bet than assuming he’s done as a Major Leaguer.

But that’s no longer the appropriate question in the Bronx. The Yankees are not in a position where they can wait out a slumping player – who’s in an almost one-year slump at this point – when they’re a) trying to win a World Series in 2022, and b) when there are better options (more on that in a moment). The better question is “Is it time to bump fists with Joey Gallo?

The answer is likely “yes”, and an injury to one of the game’s most popular players about an hour forty-five drive south of the Bronx may have opened the door on a move. We learned today that the Phillies’ Bryce Harper will require surgery on his broken thumb. He’s expected to return this season but late in the regular season if all goes well.

Here’s what else we know: The Phillies are horrid defensively (27th in team Defensive Runs Above Average). Secondly, Nick Castellanos has received the most reps for the Phils in right field in 2022 and he’s been worse than Gallo. Yes, literally: Gallo -0.1 fWAR, Castellanos -0.5 fWAR.

Gallo, for all his warts, is a very good defensive right fielder (he actually has higher Defensive Runs Above Average than Aaron Judge as a right fielder despite playing 60 fewer innings in right this season). At the bare minimum, Philadelphia gets better defensively. If Gallo is simply not made for Pinstripes and the change of scenery brings his bat back to life, the Phils are better both offensively and defensively until Harper returns.

This of course doesn’t mean the Phillies need to give up on Castellanos. With Harper out the two corner outfield spots and the DH can be filled every day by Gallo, Castellanos, and Kyle Schwarber. (Of course, with the play being Gallo in right field close to every day.) The only other current option for Philadelphia is Matt Vierling, who hasn’t played well enough for a team hoping to reach the postseason to say, “Here, it’s your job kid.”

Gallo doesn’t come with any unnecessary risk for Philadelphia either. He’s a free agent at the season’s end so if he doesn’t return to form, off he goes – yet even then Philadelphia is improved until Harper returns due to Gallo’s defense. But if Gallo does start swinging the bat again then they’re significantly improved until Harper’s.

From the Yankees’ end, there’s no harm either. Gallo certainly isn’t returning as a free agent so you’re just cutting bait with him early. Nobody wants Stanton in right field every day but he certainly can get out there another day or two per week and most importantly, Stanton in right opens up the DH spot for Matt Carpenter. (Who as I mentioned, should not be missing PAs due to Gallo’s presence at this point.)

Short term the team still has Marwin Gonzalez to play the corner outfield spots and long term – if there’s an injury to Judge, Stanton, or Hicks – guess what: Estevan Florial currently has a .288/.365/.437 slash line in Scranton for a 116 wRC+. That’s not exactly Bernie Williams of the late 90s but it’s good enough that we don’t need to hold on to Gallo due to there being no parachute.

As far as what can be expected in a trade, a comprehensive examination of the possibilities is too long for today’s post. Again, Gallo is an ex-Yankee in three months anyway so I’m not sure it’s a huge concern regardless.

Admittedly, as a fan of Gallo’s, I’m mixed on this as I do think he’s going to be a good major league player again. That said, if the Yankees were looking to make a move, this might be the right time to do it.

Did I miss something? Let me know.


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