A lot of things are going right for the New York Yankees. But it can get even better if they trade for first baseman Eric Hosmer.
As spring has transitioned to summer, the New York Yankees have continued to show Major League Baseball they’re for real.
Look up and down the roster; most things have gone right. But to every rule, there’s an exception — and for the pinstripes, their issue remains at first base.
Fortunately, the Yankees have been able to overcome their woes at the position. Aaron Judge is becoming one of the most popular stars in the sport and is a legitimate MVP candidate. Last year’s standout Gary Sanchez is starting to look like himself, as evidenced by his performance this month. The double-play duo of Starlin Castro and Didi Gregorius have picked up from where they left off in their historic 2016 campaign. Aaron Hicks looks like a completely different player while the Bald Brothers help just as much off the field as they do on it.
And it doesn’t stop there. Outside of Masahiro Tanaka, the starting rotation has been better than anyone could’ve imagined, as Luis Severino, Michael Pineda, CC Sabathia, and Jordan Montgomery all own ERA’s south of 3.70. Even though Aroldis Chapman has missed nearly a month of action, the rest of the Yankees’ bullpen — led by Dellin Betances — has filled the void.
At 37-23, the Yankees are way ahead of schedule.
But if they want to capitalize on a tremendous two-and-a-half months of play, the organization can’t continue with what they have.
After starring throughout Spring Training, Greg Bird struggled mightily to start 2017. Nagging injuries may have played a part, but a batting average of .100 and 22 strikeouts in just 60 at-bats was tough to ignore. The former top prospect is free to return from the disabled list but manager Joe Girardi claimed, “Our people have determined that he’s not ready to come back yet.”
Backup Chris Carter hasn’t fared much better in his absence. Despite getting regular playing time, the reigning National League home run leader hasn’t shown his power stroke in the comfy confines of Yankee Stadium. Combine that with floating around the Mendoza line through 47 games and it’s safe to say the team has seen little production from the position.
Since he joined the big leagues seven years ago up until today, Hosmer has been a consistent producer in the middle of the Royals lineup. 2017 has been no exception, as the first baseman is slashing as impressive .314/.363/.469 through 239 at-bats while also chipping in seven home runs, 26 RBI and 14 doubles.
Imagining Hosmer giving the Yankees a left-handed bat in the middle of the order while also providing Gold Glove caliber defense will make fans salivate. But it isn’t only his on-field ability that makes the 27-year-old a fit in pinstripes.
Hosmer is a proven winner. He is a lifetime .276 hitter in postseason play and was a major catalyst for the Royals reaching the World Series in 2014 and sitting atop the baseball mountain one year later. He was also an integral part of Team USA during the World Baseball Classic, as the country went on to take home the top prize in the tournament. He’s noted for his positive energy and attitude, something that can mesh well in a clubhouse of close-knit talents like the Yankees have.
But where a dream matchup takes a turn is when thinking of a trade package. Hosmer is in the last year of his contract but rentals aren’t as cheap as they once were. The Yankees did get their top prospect by surrendering two months of Chapman to the Chicago Cubs, after all.
Bird could be the center of trade talks but it’s hard to imagine the organization giving up on him so soon. But outside of the untouchable prospects (Gleyber Torres, Clint Frazier, Justus Sheffield, and Blake Rutherford), all bets are off.
That means young talents like Jorge Mateo, Dustin Fowler, Tyler Wade, Chance Adams, and others will be on the table. With a glut of outfielders both in the major leagues and in the system, Fowler can be a strong place to start. And with Lorenzo Cain also in the last year of his contract, he could be Kansas City’s center fielder of the future. Adding names like Thairo Estrada and Domingo German may be enticing enough to get the Bronx Bombers their man.
Many will be sour on giving up prospects for a rental — but that’s why you build up your farm system.
And who knows? Maybe trading for Hosmer will work as well for the Yankees as it did when the Cubs acquired Chapman last season.