BREAKING: The New York Yankees are finalizing a deal to acquire outfielder Joey Gallo from the Texas Rangers, sources tell ESPN. The deal is pending medical review.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) July 29, 2021
This a highly competitive move for the Yankees, who at 52-47, are currently in third place in the American League East and fourth in the AL Wild Card Race. In the deal, they also acquire left-handed relief pitcher John King and will send prospects Trevor Huaver, Glenn Otto, Ezequiel Duran, Everson Pereira, Randy Vazquez, and Josh Smith to Texas.
For a Yankees team that has wildly underperformed offensively this season (24th in baseball in runs scored), the acquisition of Gallo injects an elite bat into the middle of the lineup. So far in 2021, Gallo is hitting .223/.379/.490 — good for a 140 wRC+.
But perhaps the most underrated aspect of this deal is what Gallo brings to the Yankees on the defensive side of the baseball. Of the Yankees position players who have spent the most time in the outfield, only Aaron Judge has rated positively in both defensive runs saved and ultimate zone rating. For both of those metrics, the Yankees’ outfield defense rates 21st and 22nd, respectively.
On the contrary, Joey Gallo leads all of baseball in all positions in DRS with 14, and only Jason Heyward outpaces him in right field on UZR. For outs above average, Gallo is also in the 95th percentile. Any way you slice it, Gallo is both an elite bat and an elite glove.
The other piece heading to the Yankees, King, looks to slot into a middle relief role vacated by the deal that sent Luis Cessa and Justin Wilson to the Cincinnati Reds. King has pitched very well in 2021 thus far, pitching to a 3.52 ERA/3.30 FIP. While the 26-year-old lefty doesn’t miss a ton of bats, he does a great job inducing soft contact thanks in part to a 94th percentile chase rate.
While King’s ground ball rate isn’t quite as high as league leader and fellow recent Yankees bullpen addition Clay Holmes, it’s still pretty high at 57 percent. indicating that this may be something the Yankees were pursuing this deadline season. Additionally, King’s multi-inning ability gives the Yankees some flexibility, as he’s pitched 46 innings in 27 games.
It took a full two-bedroom apartment of minor leaguers to do it, but the Yankees made the big trade, just a few days after the division rival Tampa Bay Rays acquired Nelson Cruz. Interestingly, it appears this trade does not take them out of the Trevor Story sweepstakes, so it will be interesting to see what that deal looks like when and if that deal comes to fruition.
As of now, the deal is still pending medical review.
Brian Menéndez is a contributing writer for Beyond the Box Score, as well as a senior writer for DRaysBay and freelance contributor to FiveThirtyEight. He has also been featured in The Hardball Times. You can find Brian on Twitter at @briantalksbsb.