ST. PETERSBURG -- The Yankees can vividly picture what Joey Gallo would look like in pinstripes, boasting a left-handed uppercut swing that was seemingly created to launch balls into Yankee Stadium’s inviting right-field seats.
They will not have to wait much longer to see it for real. The Yankees have acquired Gallo and left-hander Joely Rodríguez from the Rangers in exchange for four prospects, a trade that was formally announced by the clubs on Thursday morning.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone said that he spoke to Gallo on Thursday morning, welcoming him to the club and wishing him safe travels to Miami, where the Bombers will open a three-game series on Friday against the Marlins.
“We’re incredibly excited to add two players that we feel like are really going to help us,” Boone said. “Hopefully people are talking about what a tremendous all-around player we’re getting [in Gallo]. A really good athlete: a guy that runs the bases, has some speed, that’s a really good defender in the outfield. The tremendous patience and power that he has … we’re excited to add an All-Star.”
In exchange, the Rangers received: shortstop Josh Smith (Yankees' No. 14 prospect per MLB Pipeline); second baseman Ezequiel Duran (No. 15); second baseman/outfielder Trevor Hauver (No. 23); and right-hander Glenn Otto (No. 28).
Yankees get: OF/DH Joey Gallo; LHP Joely Rodríguez; cash considerations
Rangers get: SS Josh Smith (Yankees' No. 14 prospect per MLB Pipeline); 2B Ezequiel Duran (No. 15); 2B/OF Trevor Hauver (No. 23); RHP Glenn Otto (No. 28)
The Rangers will pay most of Gallo's remaining salary in 2021 (about $2.2 million) and the $900,000 owed to Rodríguez, according to a source. That helped New York make another move prior to Friday's Trade Deadline -- adding Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo for Minor League right-hander Alexander Vizcaino and outfielder Kevin Alcántara.
“They’re still exploring things,” Boone said. “I wouldn’t rule anything out.”
As general manager Brian Cashman and members of the baseball operations department continue to work the phones in their Tampa "war room," Gallo projects to provide a significant upgrade for a Yankees club that has unexpectedly ranked among the Majors' least-potent lineups.
The 27-year-old Gallo is tied for fifth in the American League and tied for sixth in the Majors with 25 home runs, batting .223/.379/.490 with 57 runs, six doubles, a triple, 55 RBIs, an .869 OPS and a Major League-leading 74 walks. Gallo’s 125 strikeouts are third in the Majors.
“Just facing him a few times, the first thing that jumps off is his power, his ability to leave the park to left field or right field,” Yankees right-hander Chad Green said. “Any time you make a mistake, he's going to do damage with it.”
Gallo was selected to his second All-Star team earlier this season (also 2019), and Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge said that he spent time chatting with Gallo during the festivities at Denver’s Coors Field.
“Having that left-handed bat and left-handed presence … that's going to be huge, just to give the pitchers a different look,” Judge said. “I think when we go up there with all right-handed guys, pitchers get into grooves and get into rhythms. If you mix it up a little bit and throw some lefties in there, it's going to be big for this lineup and this team.”
Gallo is under team control through 2022, earning $6.2 million this season and arbitration-eligible for next. Gallo owns a career batting average of .211 with 145 home runs and 317 RBIs in 568 games over seven Major League seasons (2015-21), all with the Rangers.
His acquisition appears to have been the motivation behind a trade completed late on Tuesday, when the Yanks freed approximately $1.4 million and two 40-man roster spots by dealing pitchers Luis Cessa and Justin Wilson to the Reds for a player to be named later.
“I really didn’t know where we were going with that,” Judge said. “The Reds got two amazing pitchers and two amazing clubhouse guys in Cessa and Wilson. They’ve done a lot for us over the years. They're going to be missed.”
Gallo has played mostly the corner-outfield spots -- winning an AL Gold Glove Award as a right fielder in 2020 -- during his seven-year big league career, also appearing at first base, third base and center field.
With Judge entrenched in right field, the Yanks would likely use Gallo mostly in left.
Rodriguez, 29, was 1-3 with one save and a 5.93 ERA in 31 appearances for the Rangers this season, holding left-handed batters to a .176/.282/.206 slash line.
“This is a guy that has been tough left on left,” Boone said. “With us bringing over a guy like [Clay] Holmes who has been really tough on righties, maybe these guys can complement each other a little bit.”
As for the prospects the Yankees are sending to Texas, all four have boosted their stock in 2021 and would have ranked higher on MLB Pipeline's Top 30 when the list is revamped in August. Smith, Duran and Hauver all have potentially difference-making bats, while Otto finally has stayed healthy and dominated with his fastball and curveball, posting a 115/17 K/BB ratio in 75 2/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A.
“I think everyone realizes we’ve added some really nice pieces to our team,” Boone said.