On Thursday in the Bronx, the Yankees recently introduced Trade Acquisition Zach Britton, announced a deal for J.A. Happ and beat the Royals, 7-2, to get 4 1/2 games of the Red Sox in the AL East. But in the midst of all the good news, disaster: Aaron Judge went down after a chip break in his right wrist against Kansas City.
The injury came after Judge was hit by a Jakob Junis Fastball in the first inning. Because Judge is made up of a combination of Adamantium and Mithril, the big right-fielder stayed in the game, scoring this inning on a sackfly, then took another round of at-bat in the third and hit an infield single. He was, however, removed from the plate before his next outing and postgame x-rays revealed the fracture of the styloid bone on his wrist. Richter will not need surgery, but it will be three weeks before he can swing a bat that will shut him out for probably most of August.
You can expect this absence to extend a bit further. Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco suffered the same injury three years ago, on August 1
That's such a big loss as it is. The Yankees' best player and runner-up for MVP awards last year, Richter hit a glittering .285 / .398 / .548 with 26 homers, a 153 OPS + and 5.4 Wins Above substitute (baseball reference edition). He is the first in the team in percentage, slugging percentage, OPS + and WAR – the last with a considerable lead (Luis Severino is second with 4.5, the next best hitter is Aaron Hicks, down at 3.0). Simply put, he is not a player you can replace.
So what can the Yankees do to compensate for his loss? Here are three options for what to do next, from the boring to the obvious.
. 1 Do Nothing
If there is a silver lining for the Yankees, they have lost one player from a group that is already full. While Judge is the regular right fielder, Giancarlo Stanton, New York's big-time thug, easily takes his place there. (Not to have a bad insurance policy.) Besides Stanton, Hicks – a terrible season on the plate at .245 / .347 / .472 and playing superlative defense in midfield – and the venerable Brett Gardner, a respectable .249 / .338 / .388, in left. A Stanton Hicks Gardner outfield should be more than okay.
Judge's injury also opens a hole at designated Hitter, which he and Stanton usually occupy, but again the Deep Yankees have a ready-made answer to this problem in the form of Neil Walker. Veteran Second Baseman got off to a slow start this season, but turned it on in July at 0.311 / .407 / .444 a month. A combination of him and bankers like Tyler Austin and Wade can hold the fort down there until Judge returns.
So the Yankees do not have to do anything drastic. On the other hand, this is not an ideal solution. Gardner was hardly a league-average bat this season. Walker is prone to injury and has no bounty at the age of 32 years. Austin and Wade have failed in their short appearances in the big league. And if nothing else, Stanton is a defensive defensive by Judge in Right.
Another theme is the depth. The judge's injury came on the same day as Yankee's versatile fielder Brandon Drury and Triple A outfielder Billy McKinney negotiated for Happ. Top prospective Clint Frazier would have got the call-up and a starting gig, but he's on the disability list with concussion symptoms. Jacoby Ellsbury, who was absent all season with unidentified injuries, apparently dropped into the Springfield Mystery Spot. The Yankees have no bodies to turn to should anyone in this group fight; another injury would be catastrophic.
The Yankees can survive with this arrangement, but they can and should aim higher.
. 2 Get a Cheap Veteran in a Trade
The other bit of luck in Judge's injury is the timing, as there are still five days to go before the trading deadline. This gives Brian Cashman plenty of time to find a replacement in the market if he wants to. And if he does that, he'd probably be shopping in the rental department, with Hicks, Judge, and Stanton under the team's control for the next year, and Gardner having a team option of $ 12.5 million.
In this sense, who makes sense for New York? A right-handed person working with Gardner would be a good match – say Angels Backup (and former Yankee) Chris Young or Orioles veteran Adam Jones. Speaking of former Yankees, Cashman could call the Blue Jays again and ask what Curtis Granderson would cost. Other available batsmen include Twins second baseman Brian Dozier, Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas, third baseman Eduardo Escobar or Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre to add to the infield / DH mix.
However, the best fit is that of veteran bats: Jose Bautista. The aging slugger had a nice bounceback season with the Mets and hit .235 / .385 / .436 with six homers and 129 OPS + in 187 record appearances since joining the team at the end of May. A terrible defender, he would slide directly into normal DH tasks and give some right-handed pop. The main problem, however, is that he plays in Queens. Given that Mets co-owner Jeff Wilpon expects a perfect day to lose Yankee, it's hard to see how the team can help its crossown rival in times of need.
Everyone in this group is flawed or old (or both). The Yankees do not need a star, but why not shoot for the moon if they can? This brings us to option # 3.
3. Go to Bryce Harper
Listen to me, because it's not as crazy as you think. Yes, the idea of the Nationals trading Harper in the middle of a pennant race sounds like cuckoo, and the cost in prospect would be huge. But there are reasons why this could actually be a realistic option.
At the beginning, the Nationals are nominally only in the playoff hunt. The game starts on Friday, Washington is 51-51, seven games back from Philadelphia in the NL East and 4 ½ games from the second wild card, where it leaves five teams. Since early June, the Nats are one of the worst clubs of baseball and go 18-28. Fangraph's & # 39; playoff odds only give them a 52.8% chance of making the postseason, and only 34.8% hit the Division's capture. It's bad enough for Owenship to sell the front office, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, and the team has turned to others to gauge interest in its future free agents. reported Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan .
Currently, Harper is not included in these discussions, and it's easy to understand why, if he's involved with him, it could cause a clubhouse and fan mutiny. But of all the pieces of Washington, he would easily bring back the best return, especially considering that the Nationals would get almost nothing back when they run this winter. As soon as the freelance agency starts, Washington will offer Harper a qualifying offer that will guarantee compensation if he signs up with a new club. But given the many qualifiers in this qualifying offer, the best the Nats can do if Harper leaves was after the fourth round in the 2019 draft would have been a good choice. Any prospect acquired in exchange would be more valuable; nothing to say, what he would bring back to a shop.
There is also nothing that says Harper is lost forever if the Nationals treat him. Trading with him is a risk because it could offend him, and it also gives the buyer team time to promote it over the long term. If Harper really in D.C. he would understand that step as he built Washington for a better future as he returned to lead the way. Even if he puts his ball and beard elsewhere, the Nationals still have a strong core and everything they got for Harper.
As it stands, the Nationals were to make it available, there are few candidates who have the space and the means to acquire it; Houston and Cleveland would probably be the most likely. But the Yankees could be the game in heaven. They have the outfield spot with Judge out there and a fertile farm system pumping out prospects. And while Harper does not fit perfectly – he's defensively chaotic and meets only .216 in the midst of a long and brutal crisis – he's one of the few living players who can match or surpass Judge's production on the plate.
There are complications. The cost of the prospect would be high, in line with what the Dodgers were doing for Manny Machado. Payroll could be a problem with the Yankees just below the luxury tax threshold and desperate to stay there. It would be a problem if everyone had a place in the lineup for Richter, Harper and Stanton, once all are well. (On the other hand, that's a headache most managers would kill.)
But if the Yankees are, well, the Yankees, then that's the right move. Just when every other team thinks your back is against the wall, you pull it on top of it. Adding Harper would be a wonderful, insane move. Is it likely? Absolutely not. But would it bring some fuel and fun this season? Absolutely yes.