New York Yankees: Which Available Outfielder is the Best Fit?

Posted on Jul 23 2012 - 3:25pm by Anthony Rizzuti

Before entering what now has become their worst stretch of games in 2012, the New York Yankees received some disheartening news about their left fielder Brett Gardner.

Gardner, who has suffered through a nagging elbow injury, will undergo surgery.

The arthroscopic procedure scheduled for the upcoming week will most likely spell the end for his 2012 campaign and leave the team without a solid left field option. Although Andruw Jones and Raul Ibanez do boast some pop, they aren’t exactly the best defensive options at this point in their respective careers.

The situation, however, could change within the next week or so.

According to CBS Sports baseball insider Jon Heyman, the New York Yankees are in pursuit of acquiring an outfielder before this year’s trade deadline hits. In his report, Heyman states that a “rival executive” claimed the Yanks “are in on everybody.”

But who exactly is “everybody?”

Well, the three main culprits Heyman suggests are Philadelphia’s Shane Victorino, Minnesota’s Denard Span and even Arizona’s Justin Upton. So of these three, which is the best fit and is most likely to put on the ol’ pinstripes?

Shane Victorino

Currently sitting at a woeful 42-54, the Philadelphia Phillies have suddenly become the cellar-dwellers in the National League East. They are currently 14 games behind the first-place Washington Nationals and don’t appear to be turning the corner anytime this season.

So naturally, the front office would love to get rid of some baggage for some nice returns. The most likely name on the top of the list would be the disgruntled Shane Victorino.

Victorino, 31, is experiencing perhaps the worst offensive season of his career. He’s hitting at a .253 clip and has his on-base percentage at a uncharacteristic .316.

But despite his tough season, the Flyin’ Hawaiian would be a great nab for the Yanks. He’ll give the lineup a high-end option at the bottom of the order as well as an established defensive presence in left.

He would also help spike the team’s stolen base total, which ranks 24th in all of baseball.

Denard Span

Like his fellow trade candidate in Victorino, Denard Span will be in some sort of demand. With no postseason in sight this year, the last-place Twinkies could look to unload their talented center fielder in exchange for some decent prospects. A potential move of Span would also signal the beginning of the Byron Buxton era in Minnesota.

As far as fitting in, Span would be quite an addition for the Bombers. Besides his superior bat, Span is basically a carbon copy of Brett Gardner. His killer speed is well, killer, on the base paths as well as out in center.

Word is the Twins are “asking for a ton” when it comes to trading Span. So would Cashman be willing to ship away some valuable prospects for a player they basically already have? Will Span’s contributions for the rest of this season be worth it?

Justin Upton

As one of baseball’s up-and-coming superstars, Justin Upton is far and above the most appealing option of the three.

The 2011 National All-Star slammed 31 dingers, drove in 88 runs and hit for a respectable .289 clip last season. This year, on the other hand, has been much different.

Upton has just eight homers and 41 RBI through 88 games this season. In addition, his questionable attitude has raised some concern for a Diamondbacks club that is struggling in 2012.

Even though he’s the best of the three players, he’s also the least likely of them to become a Yankee.

For one, if he does end up getting traded it’ll be in the offseason. A winter meetings trade would command more talent and attention than a deadline one. So we should expect the Arizona front office to hold this off until the offseason.

Secondly, the Yankees are currently on Upton’s no-trade list. This doesn’t mean he’ll never be a member of the Yankees. This just gives Upton a small say in where he may land.

Unfortunately for Yankee fans that like Upton, there may be too many hurdles to jump in order to acquire him before this year’s deadline.

Verdict:

It is without question that Victorino would be the most sensible and likely option for the Yanks.

As of now, the Twins and D-Backs will ask for quite a lot in return for their respective outfielders. Being that Victorino a free agent after this season, the Phils may not ask for a boatload in return.

Victorino would work rather nicely as a rest-of-the-season rental in left for the major league-best Yankees. They wouldn’t be committed to him long-term and could slip Gardner back into lineup come 2013.

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