The New York Yankees have been the most disappointing team in baseball in 2021, and no one could have seen it coming.
On paper, New York has one of the most talented rosters in the league, but when it comes to winning ballgames, the club hasn’t been able to get the job done.
At 48-44, the Yankees are currently seven games out of first place in the American League East and 3.5 games out of the second Wild Card spot in the AL.
Many fans are calling for the Yankees to punt on the 2021 season and sell at the upcoming trade deadline, but that would be wildly out of character for the storied franchise.
It seems more likely that New York will look to address some of its weaknesses at the deadline and move forward with the intent of cracking the postseason.
And if that’s the avenue the club chooses, the biggest area of concern that needs to be addressed is the lineup.
Here’s what those adjustments could look like.
2. Brett Gardner Should Be Traded
Brett Gardner is a lifelong Yankee and a fan favorite, but his 2021 campaign has been a rough one.
He currently has a miserable slash line of .188/.305/.294 to go along with an OPS+ of 68.
Further, he is batting .100 on the dot over his last 20 games.
Bro WHY is Brett Gardner still getting at-bats
— Kasey Foster (@foster_child_29) July 18, 2021
Gardner has been a serviceable hitter in years past, but age might be catching up with him.
He is still a plus defender, but not to a degree that justifies keeping his struggling bat in the lineup.
The 37-year-old is a free agent after the season ends, so maybe the Yankees could find him a home at the deadline with a team that needs outfield depth.
If that’s the route they go, they’ll need to bring in a replacement somehow.
1. Clint Frazier Needs To Take A Seat
The Yankees certainly don’t need to throw in the towel on 26-year-old Clint Frazier permanently, but he can’t be a part of the team’s everyday lineup for the immediate future if New York is serious about getting back into the playoff picture.
Frazier showed a lot of promise in 2019 and 2020, batting .267 with an OPS of .844 over 108 total games, but this season has been a different story.
He is batting just .186 with a very low .633 OPS.
Even worse, he has been awful defensively.
Frazier somehow has a -1.2 defensive WAR on the year.
In other words, he is on pace to cost the Yankees two games by the end of the season due to his poor outfield defense.
No one expected Frazier to struggle like this, and it’s difficult to see.
Here’s where things get tricky: Frazier is out of minor-league options.
The Yankees can’t simply send him down.
They essentially have three long-term choices: trade him, bench him, or designate him for assignment (the latter of which probably isn’t going to happen).
It would be a bummer to sell low on Frazier in a trade considering how good he has looked at other points in his young career.
And benching him would mean wasting a roster spot on a guy who isn’t playing.
There are really no great options.
Right now, Frazier is on the injured list as he deals with vision issues.
Clint Frazier continues to go through vision testing. They are trying contact lenses. Still no time frame for his return.
— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) July 16, 2021
The timing of the IL stint actually works out well amid his struggles, and perhaps a proper diagnosis of his vision issues could lead to a positive change in his production.
It will be interesting to see how the Yankees handle the situation.