Should the Yankees Go After Michael Brantley?

Despite resigning Brett Gardner to a one-year deal, it’s no secret the Yankees could still use an upgraded left-handed bat to play left field in 2019. Could free agent Michael Brantley be a fit?

Brantley, 31, posted his first healthy campaign since 2015 and in those 143 games, he did not disappoint. In 631 plate appearances, he slashed .309/.364/.468 with 17 homers and an fWAR of 3.5. To put his season into context, Brantley’s 124 wRC+ would rank 5th amongst the Yankee lineup last year just behind Giancarlo Stanton (127).

At first glance, it seems like a deal between the two parties isn’t all too realistic. The Yankees already inked Brett Gardner to return in 2019 and have reportedly had minimal interest in superstar free agent Bryce Harper, who is also a left-handed outfielder.

But if Brantley lingers into the deep months of free agency, could Brian Cashman and the Yankees swoop in and land him? Don’t count it out. projects a three-year/$45M deal for the 3x All-Star, which is exactly what the Yankees gave a 36-year-old Carlos Beltran in 2013.

However, at 31 years of age, it’s very plausible to think that Brantley may have trouble finding the exact deal he’s seeking, especially after what we saw last offseason where the projected market simply didn’t exist for many free agents. If so, perhaps a two-year deal could be reached under the right circumstances, giving the Yankees a solid outfield bat to help balance their right-handed heavy lineup. And say rumors come true and Manny Machado does indeed wear pinstripes next season, here’s a potential Opening Day lineup.

  1. Michael Brantley LF (L)
  2. Aaron Judge RF
  3. Manny Machado SS
  4. Giancarlo Stanton DH
  5. Aaron Hicks CF (S)
  6. Miguel Andujar 3B
  7. Gary Sanchez C
  8. Luke Voit 1B
  9. Gleyber Torres 2B

Far fetched? Maybe. But certainly within the realms of possibility in a free agent market that is about as unpredictable as ever.

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