Andrew Benintendi and the Chicago White Sox agreed to terms on a contract on Friday. Benintendi, who was acquired by the New York Yankees from the Kansas City Royals last season, is a steady outfielder with impressive hitting ability. The Yankees have made a number of moves to bolster their roster this season. Bringing Aaron Judge back into the mix will prove to be pivotal, while the recent Carlos Rodon signing enhances the pitching rotation in a major way.
But the Yankees would benefit from adding one more outfielder amid Andrew Benintendi’s departure. Can Giancarlo Stanton play left field? Yes, but he’s better suited as a DH due to health concerns. Meanwhile, Harrison Bader is locked in as the centerfielder while Aaron Judge is in right field. So who should the Yankees target to play left field in 2023?
Primary Yankees target: Bryan Reynolds
Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Bryan Reynolds previously requested a trade. Reynolds is a steady outfielder who the Pirates value without question. Although they would prefer not to deal him away, a trade is not unrealistic. But Pittsburgh’s asking price is reportedly steep.
The Yankees, who have already spent plenty of money in free agency, could turn to their farm system for a Bryan Reynolds trade. Reynolds, a centerfielder, would have to adjust to playing left field. But the transition should prove to be seamless given his defensive prowess.
Reynolds is fresh off of a season that saw him club 27 home runs to go along with an .807 OPS. In 2021, he hit 24 homers with a .912 OPS.
Bryan Reynolds profiles as a primary outfield target. But there are alternatives if Pittsburgh’s asking price proves to be too much.
A reliable veteran Andrew Benintendi replacement
Andrew Benintendi provided steady hitting ability and impressive defense. Although he struggled during his short stint as a Yankee, his skill set will be missed. But there is a specific left fielder in free agency who offers a fairly similar set of tools.
Michael Brantley is a reliable veteran who could be a Benintendi replacement for the Yankees.
Brantley is a 5-time All-Star who simply hits the baseball. It should be noted that his defense isn’t what it once was. But the Yankees could alternate between Brantley and Stanton in left field.
Brantley’s 2022 season came to an early end because of injury. However, he still slashed .288/.370/416 for the Houston Astros. For his career, Brantley is the owner of a tremendous .298 batting average. He slaps the ball all over the field and is one of the most difficult hitters to strikeout in baseball.
And for a Yankees ball club that relies on home runs, Brantley would add an element of versatility.
A wild card free agency option
Former New York Mets outfielder Michael Conforto did not play in 2022. Teams are not sure what to expect from him heading into the 2023 campaign.
There was a time when Conforto was regarded as one of the better outfielders in the game. He featured power to go along with reliable defense in the outfield. The Yankees could take a chance on him for the 2023 season. Although rust could be a factor to open the year, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Conforto find his rhythm as the season rolls along.
He’s also comfortable playing in a big market given his Mets past.
*Statistics provided by Baseball Reference.