Where the Yankees can turn is left field options, from free agent Michael Conforto to trader Bryan Reynolds

The New York Yankees have had their work week wrapped up in action. Less than 24 hours after agreeing to terms with left-hander Carlos Rodon on a long-term deal, the Yankees saw quarterback Andrew Benintendi sign a five-year, $75 million deal with the Chicago White Sox. Benintendi’s contract is the most lucrative the White Sox have ever handed to a free agent.

Benintendi’s departure meant that Yankees general manager Brian Cashman would have to reconsider his plans for left field. The good news for Cashman is that he has a good outdoor foundation to build from. Right fielder Aaron Judge Came back earlier this winter After a historic barrage last season, quarterback Harrison Bader will remain in the draft for a full season after coming at the trade deadline from the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Yankees have a few inside options they could consider for the vacant left fielder, including veteran Aaron Hicks and youngster Oswaldo Cabrera. Given New York’s reported interest in keeping Nintendo, it’s probably fair to assume their preference would be to open camp with another option confined by Hicks and Cabrera on the depth chart.

Just who might this person be? Let’s take a look at some of the prospects available to the Yankees on both the free agent and trade fronts.

Free proxies

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The best free midfielder left on the market is Michael Brantley. CBS Sports ranked him 15th going into the winter, but it was hard to peg his arrow due to his age (he’ll turn 36 this May) and the fact that he hasn’t played after June 26 due to season-ending shoulder surgery. The Yankees would seem like a reasonable suitor to Brantley on the surface. They’re competitive, and can afford to give him a lucrative one-year deal in the hope that a prolonged layoff won’t hurt him. However, it is unclear whether the Yankees were interested in Rantley, whose name was largely absent from the rumor mill.

Several other top 50 free agents have yet to find homes, starting with No. 28 Jurickson Profar and extending to Michael Conforto (No. 34), Wil Myers (No. 46) and David Peralta (No. 47). Throw in unranked AJ Pollock, and the Yankees will have some digging to do.

Profar is the closest thing the market has to offer to a Benintendi dealer – at least in the sense that they’re both in short supply. Otherwise, it’s an incomplete comparison. While Profar has hit .244/.333/.375 (103 OPS+) over the past three seasons, Benintendi has hit .228/.347/.410 (109 OPS+). Profar’s raw numbers have been hurt by him playing his home games at Petco, but there’s still a gap there. It doesn’t help that Nintendo is the superior gamer.

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For its part, Conforto is perhaps the most interesting bull run. And nobody dressed last season after suffering a shoulder injury during spring practice. In the previous seven years, all spent with the New York Mets, he hit 0.25/.356/.468 (124 OPS+) and hit 132 home runs. Conforto’s left hand strength seems to match well with Yankee outfield proportions.

Let’s play a lightning round for the other three names mentioned above. Myers and Pollock are both short-sided. Myers produced Mookie Betts against lefties during the Pandemic Era, while Pollock posted a 0.935 OPS against the Southpaws in 2022. Peralta is strong against righties, which means he’d be a good partner for either of them, should that happen.

Let’s say the Yankees find none of the above options satisfactory. Could they be able to do a better job by trading? With the caveat that it’s hard to know exactly who is and who isn’t, we think so.

Trade objectives

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The clear big favorite on this front is Brian Reynolds of the Pittsburgh Pirates. He’s a switch player with three years of team control left, a career .281/.361/.481 (127 OPS+) slant and a Public request to be deliberated. The only small problem is that the Buccaneers don’t have to deal with him, and they’re said to be looking for a Juan Soto-like package in return. Good luck and God bless you.

Shy of Reynolds, the Yankees could only dream of securing a long-term spell in the form of someone acquired from the positions of the Arizona Diamondbacks or the enlarged positions of the St. Louis Cardinals.

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The Diamondbacks are unlikely to part ways with Corbin Carroll or Daulton Varsho, but they are also hiring youngsters Alec Thomas and Jake McCarthy, as well as former Rookie of the Year winner Kyle Lewis. As for the Cardinals, they have Tyler O’Neal, Lars Nutbar, Dylan Carlson, and Alec Burleson on their expected list. That doesn’t include Moises Gomez or prospect Jordan Walker, either of whom could climb to the major league roster on a whim.

Now, we feel compelled to note that the Yankees have to give up someone to get someone. Exhausting some of their organizational depth (especially pitchers) last summer, the Yankees traded away prospects Benintendi, Frankie Montas, Lou Trevino and Scott Efros. They still have some interesting possibilities for shopping, but their comfort in parting with the prospects of quality will inform their price bracket.

With that in mind, we’ll wrap up by touching on a couple of Major League Central players who are resting in another direction apart from the aforementioned players.

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The Minnesota Twins have discussed Max Kepler with other teams and appear to be in a good position to trade him given their recent signing of Joey Gallo. He offers good defense and is a reliable 90 OPS+ or better, plus he has two years left on his contract. Meanwhile, the Detroit Tigers may prefer to hold on to Austin Meadows until he can regain his trade value. Meadows, who has two years remaining in control of the team, played only 36 games last season due to injury and his absence from work on his mental health.

The reality of the trading market is that the Yankees will inquire about players beyond the scope of this article. No one can say for sure who the Yankees will add, but it seems like a safe bet that they’ll find someone to their liking between now and the opening of camp.

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