It’s not a secret, the Yankees have some adding to do at the trade deadline. It’s been glaring since they traded Mike Tauchman and lost Aaron Hicks to a season-ending wrist injury. They’ve been running Miguel Andujar, Brett Gardner and Clint Frazier in the outfield on a quasi-daily basis. They’ve even started Aaron Judge in Center Field, and cannot fully trust Tyler Wade as an everyday bat in the lineup, but more so as a spark plug or defensive replacement off the bench.
Enter Starling Marte. Yesterday, it was reported by Craig Mish on Twitter that the Marlins and the star outfielder have not discussed a potential extension. These are words directly from Kim Ng herself, so it holds a lot of validity. This isn’t too surprising, though.
The Marlins have taken a nose-dive in the standings, going 2-8 in their last 10 games. They sit 6.5 games back of the NL East leading New York Mets and sit 9 games back of a Wild Card Spot. Extending a 32-year-old Marte just does not make sense for them.
Marte did miss time earlier this season with a broken rib, but he was raking before that and has continued to do so since returning. In 110 Plate Appearances in 2021, Marte is slashing .337/.436/.554 with 4 home runs and 11 RBI. He has a .432 wOBA with a .397 xWOBA and a 175 wRC+. He also has stolen six bases, something the Yankees could use. Bottom line, he’s really good.
But the hitting isn’t the most important part of what Marte could bring to the Yankees. To me, the most important part of his game is his defense and his activity on the bases. Starling Marte has been one of the best Center Fielders in MLB for his entire career. The Yankees have had the worst defensive Center Fielder in all of baseball, Aaron Hicks, manning the position.
When Hicks went down, we began to see more of Brett Gardner in Center Field. Gardner is by all means a better defensive center fielder than Aaron Hicks, but Gardner hasn’t been able to hit. Gardner also can’t get on base, so his speed is never really fully realized. Starling Marte in Center Field every day would be quite the welcome sight, and would let Yankees know what an elite Center Fielder looks like.
Before you say it, I am willing to look past that Marte is a right-handed hitter, as he helps the Yankees well beyond the batter’s box. On of the bigger issues for the Yankees has been a lack of speed and the poor base running, Marte helps that.
The Red Tape
Where it gets tricky with Marte is what the Marlins can potentially gain by keeping him around. If the Marlins assume that Marte will reject a $19M qualifying offer (roughly 30% of the team’s payroll) after season’s end, they will receive a compensation pick for 2022 after the first round when he signs with another team.
Any trade that the Marlins do make, then, will need to have them feeling that they are getting more value than they would with a compensation pick. That seems obvious, but it isn’t that simple. Sure, the Marlins will have plenty of offers, and the Yankees will maybe make one.
Where it gets tricky with the Yankees, though, is that it seems rather obvious that Hal Steinbrenner does not want to go over the Luxury Tax Threshold, nor do some other teams like the Astros.
The roughly $7 Million owed to Marte (according to MLB Trade Rumors) would send the Yankees over. Miami could, then, offer to pay off some of Marte’s salary themselves in return for a better package of players. At that point, the Yankees might get scared away. It’s tough to give up so much for a rental, especially if you’re 6.5 games back of the division lead in June. And. let’s face it, the Yankees don’t feel like a World Series team right now.
Starling Marte in a vacuum would be a fantastic addition not just to the Yankees’ roster, but to any Major League team. The question is, does it make sense for the Yankees.
It sure feels like it, but how much does Starling Marte really change the World Series odds for this team vis-a-vis the package they would have to give up? Is Clarke Schmidt in the discussion? Oswald Peraza? What about a player like Austin Wells or TJ Sikkema. It will take a top ten prospect, alongside others, to make the deal work. Especially if the Marlins take on a portion of Marte’s contract. We know the Yankees have not been players in mid-season splashes, and acquiring Marte would be a big one.