With Edwin Encarnacion debuting in pinstripes last night, Giancarlo Stantonreturning tonight, and Aaron Judge scheduled to return late this week or early next week, the Yankees offense is as normal as it is going to be this season. Of course offense is not what people were worried about with this team because the need for more starting pitching is paramount. Don’t let that ruin loving this trade, though, because having EE and his parrot actually gives the Yankees a lot more flexibility than they had a few days ago. Here’s why.
It helps the outfield
Sure, Edwin is a 1B/DH, but having him allows Stanton to move to the outfield regularly. The current starting outfield has Brett Gardner and Cameron Maybin in it, both of who have played well, but I hope we can all agree are better in more limited playing time. By the time the Yankees head off to London, here is what the outfield situation should look like:
*Maybin is out of minor league options and it is unclear what the Yankees will do with him. They can either carry five outfielders, DFA him, or trade him. Regardless, having him as a 5th OF option is great. He is currently on fire and has homered in three straight games for the first time in his career.
Having Frazier and the Sock Man in AAA is a luxury few other teams have. Defensive woes and all, Clint has shown himself to be a major league caliber player this year and having him as injury insurance is an incredible option. Scott will never forget his anger over having Sugar Shane Robinson get meaningful playing time in the outfield last year, and we are now a long way from that situation. Signing a DH like Edwin is going to have huge dividends in the outfield.
Edwin also helps the infield situation because he allows DJ LeMahieu to take over as the regular third baseman. Yes, Gio has been incredible up to this point, but as John wrote last week, he has shown signs of slowing down. The following graph shows his wOBA over time this season:
You can clearly see how after 30 games he started to cool off. This is common for guys like Urshela – we all remember how incredible Yangervis Solarte was for a few months before he suddenly wasn’t. When guys are playing far and above their true talent level, it is better to get them to a bench role sooner rather than later. Also let’s take a moment to appreciate the true insanity of this lineup:
That will be the Yankees 1-9 by the end of this week and holy *&!&! is that amazing. Gleyber Torres current OPS+ is 126, which means he is 25% better than the league average player and he is batting ninth in this lineup. Not 25% better than the league average 9 hole hitter, 25% than a LEAGUE AVERAGE hitter. It is insane. As is trying to figure out where to slot guys into this lineup. Luke Voit would be the No. 1 or No. 2 masher in the middle of a lineup on most teams and I put him 7th in this lineup. I feel sorry for the baseballs.
Clint Frazier can now be traded for a SP
And here we are, back to talking about trading for a starter. Frazier is likely the Yankees most valuable trade chip. He has a 122 OPS+ this season which is great for a 24-year-old getting his first extended playing time in the big leagues. And there is no reason that with more time he can’t be at least a league average defensive outfielder.
If I’m an opposing GM with a starter to sell, the first guy I ask Cashman about is Gleyber. When Cashman hangs up and you call back, the next guy you ask about is Frazier. And as outlined above, the Yankees have good OF depth right now. Even if they lose Maybin and someone gets hurt, Tauchman is the 4th OF and he has been serviceable this season.
I doubt Cashman made this deal with the intention of trading Frazier, and truthfully I think the Yankees hope Frazier can take over for Brett Gardner next season. I would much rather trade a lower level OF like Estevan Florial than Fraizer because Clint has shown that he can handle major league pitching. But, if the right starter becomes available and Frazier is the price, the Yankees are now equipped to make that deal.
On the outside, acquiring a DH does not seem like an important move for this team, but the ramifications spread far and wide. Both the outfield and infield depths are strengthened with this trade (and the big boys coming back this week). It also makes it easier to absorb the cost of trading for that starting pitcher. Look for NinjaCash to strike again soon in the trade market.