In their last game before the trade deadline, the Yankees offensive woes continued as they lost to the Tampa Bay Rays, 5-1. Despite being within striking distance of a Wild Card spot, it’s becoming more and more apparent that this Yankee team may not make the playoffs.
So far in this crucial 10-game stretch vs. Baltimore, Tampa Bay and Houston, the Yankees have lost three of four.
The Yankees had three hits and their top five hitters were 1 for 17 against the Rays. The strike out problem continues as the Yankees tied a franchise record with 30 strikeouts in the last two games. They are having an incredibly hard time scoring runs, not to mention running the bases.
At this point in time, the Yankees are an above average team in a highly competitive division. The Yankees really may be the 5th best team in the AL East. With a division winner and three Wild Card spots, finishing fifth would leave the Yankees out of the playoffs.
Aaron Judge is back but the opponents have demonstrated they will not give him much to hit (11 times on base, 7 walks, in 13 plate appearances since he’s been back) because there is absolutely no fear that the players hitting behind him will do damage.
That brings us to Tuesday’s deadline.
This Yankee team is not one or two moves away from being a solid World Series contender. The way this roster is constructed, the Yankees will be fortunate to even make the playoffs because they have a very tough road to navigate.
If the Yankees make any moves before Tuesday’s deadline, they need to be made with an eye towards 2024. There is no move to be made that can save the Yankees season, but there may be a move out there that makes sense for 2024.
The Yankees entered this season without a legitimate left fielder and a lack of left hand hitting.
Aaron Hicks was already having problems last season, yet the Yankees were counting on a rebound season that never materialized, while young Oswaldo Cabrera, who showed some real promise last year, regressed this season.
The Yankees have a dire need for left hand hitting, not to mention a corner outfielder.
At this moment in time, there is no left handed presence in the Yankees lineup that scares right handed pitchers. The great ones won’t be intimidated, but the Yankees predominantly right handed hitting lineup has helped struggling right handed pitchers thrive against them.
Juan Soto fills both those needs for the Yankees, who have been searching for an impactful left handed bat since Robinson Cano departed after the 2013 season. Not to mention, Soto makes them younger.
There has been talk that the Padres may consider moving Soto, who is having a down season and reportedly is not happy in San Diego. Coming into Monday night, the 24-year old is slashing .268/.420/.503 with an OPS of .923. He has 20 homers and 64 RBIs and has walked a league leading 97 times. He has also struck out 93 times but
Soto would lengthen the lineup and provide more protection for Judge.
Even if they make the playoffs, the Yankees will still have some crucial decisions to make.
What is the future for Gleyber Torres, who is a free agent after next season. His inconsistent play leaves you wondering if the Yankees will commit to him as their second baseman of the future.
Third base, catcher and the outfield depth, beyond left field, are just some of the items that will need to be addressed.
Harrison Bader is a free agent, so who plays center if he doesn’t come back. I don’t think the Yankees will go back to using Judge in center. In fact, the Yankees may want to start thinking about possibly transitioning Judge to first base at some point in the near future.
The Yankees have a reputation of being active at the trade deadline. For them, it’s not a matter of being active. Whether they are buyers or sellers, the Yankees can’t miss on any moves they make, something that has been lacking in recent seasons.