The New York Yankees have a run differential of +104 as of Thursday, yet they’re four games back of the Boston Red Sox in the division. They do own the first wild card spot, but only lead the surging Kansas City Royals by a half game.
It was a brutal month of June for the Bronx Bombers ending the month with a 13-15 record. Part of the Yankees struggles may be partly because of veteran Matt Holliday’s absence from the lineup. He’s been out since June 17th with an illness that nobody could figure out what it was until the other day.
As it turns out, he tested positive for a virus called Epstein-barr. I have no clue what that is, but he did take some batting practice Wednesday, and is eligible to be activated from the disabled list on Thursday, which is an off day for the Yankees.
Aside from the fact that the Yankees are 6-11 since Holliday got sick, saying they’re desperate for answers over at first base would be an understatement.
Between the 10 first baseman used, Holliday has by far been the most productive even if the sample size isn’t that big. In the eight games he’s started over at first, he’s hitting a cool .400 with an 1.187 OPS; he even has a stolen base in the stat book.
Overall, it’s been ugly. Add up all the numbers and Yankee first baseman are hitting .200 with an on-base percentage below .300. The list of misfortunes is extensive. Tyler Austin (hamstring) and Greg Bird (knee/ankle) are currently on the disabled list with no timetables for their return. Chris Carter has been DFA’d twice this year, and Bryan Mitchell is a pitcher.
Ji-Man Choi was called up on Wednesday in time to be in the lineup against the Toronto Blue Jays, and delivered a towering two-run home run. It was nice to get some immediate production from the new guy, but he only hit .170 in 54 games with the Angels last season.
So what do the Yankees do? Well they don’t have a first baseman in the minors they can confidently call up, and expect him to actually succeed so they’ll have to look outside the organization. With no current free agents that would actually solve the problem, the Yankees will most likely have to look for a trade partner.
The Yankees called the Marlins about Justin Bour and Martin Prado last month, but it’s unclear whether they will go that route, or if the Marlins would be willing to part ways with Bour. Matt Adams is only hitting .162 with a .184 on-base percentage against left handed pitching so you can most likely cross him off the list.
The dream scenario would be acquiring Royals’ first baseman Eric Hosmer, but since they’ve hit a hot streak, and GM Dayton Moore’s philosophy it’s unlikely they’d entertain selling at the deadline this season.
Lucas Duda and Yonder Alonso are both in the final year of their contract. Alonso has openly stated he’d like to stay long term with the A’s, but we all know Billy Beane is basically willing to trade anyone and everyone. Alonso is having a career year that includes and All-Star appearance, and he’s been healthier than Lucas Duda.
Aside from health the Yankees and Mets rarely make deals with each other, but this might be the year they do. Duda has only played in 59 games this season, but he has a lot of pop in his bat which would play nicely in Yankee Stadium.
A third, but less likely candidate would Brandon Belt who is still under contract until 2021. The only problem is that even though he’s making 2.8 million this season it bumps up to 16 million per year starting next season, and I’m not sure the Yankees want to pay that kind of money, especially when they are still really high on Bird.
Look for the Yankees to find a rental for the rest of the season, and no, they’re not moving Aaron Judge to first base.