The Yankees are known to be looking for center field help, and the club is considering options at the top of the free agent and trade markets. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi tweets that the Yankees and Mariners are among the teams interested in acquiring Bryan Reynolds from the Pirates, while on the free agent front, NJ.com’s Brendan Kuty reports that “Starling Marte is, at the very least, on the Yankees’ radar.”
This isn’t the first time that the Bronx Bombers have looked into Marte, as the Yankees had some talks with the Marlins about a potential swap back in July. Marte ended up being dealt to the A’s, while the Yankees instead augmented their outfield by acquiring Joey Gallo from the Rangers. As for Reynolds, New York joins the long list of teams who have reportedly asked about Pittsburgh’s All-Star center fielder in the last six months alone — the Astros, Guardians, Marlins, Brewers, and Braves have all been linked to Reynolds, and Seattle tried to deal for Reynolds prior to the trade deadline.
Aaron Hicks, of course, is ostensibly already the Yankees’ starting center fielder, so landing a proven everyday star like Marte or Reynolds would amount to a major sea change in the team’s outfield depth chart. However, Hicks has battled multiple injuries in recent years, including a wrist surgery in May that ended his 2021 season after 32 games. Hicks is expected to return to baseball activities in December and be ready for Spring Training, yet as GM Brian Cashman told reporters yesterday, “We just want to make sure we put the best team out there, so no guarantees right now for anybody….We just don’t have a pure center fielder at this point with the unknown of Aaron Hicks not playing for a while.”
If Hicks is healthy and Marte, Reynolds, or another notable starting outfielder was added, New York would suddenly be awash in outfield options. Aaron Judge obviously has right field locked down, Giancarlo Stanton would play every day as either the DH or in the corners, and the likes of Gallo, Miguel Andujar, Clint Frazier, and Estevan Florial are also on hand.
In the event of a Reynolds trade, it isn’t out of the question that any of those latter three names could be part of the very big trade package the Pirates would demand in any Reynolds deal. None would be headliners in that trade package, however, as Andujar, Frazier, and Florial have all seen their star prospect status dim over the last couple of years. Gallo or Hicks probably wouldn’t have much trade appeal for the rebuilding Pirates, though either veteran could potentially be flipped in another deal if the Yankees were looking to create room, even if New York would likely have to eat a good portion of the $41MM left on Hicks’ contract.
Should the Yankees balk at Pittsburgh’s asking price for Reynolds, signing Marte wouldn’t come with any prospect cost, even if he might require something in the neighborhood of a four-year, $80MM contract. This type of spending shouldn’t necessarily be beyond a Bombers team that ducked under the luxury tax line last season, even if the Yankees additionally gave out some big dollars to address their needs at shortstop, first base, or perhaps in the rotation.