The Yankees acquired Oscar Gonzalez from the Cleveland Guardians on Friday afternoon, through trade waivers. Gonzalez is a 26-year-old outfielder, whom the Yankees believe will be a solid depth piece behind Aaron Judge and, should they acquire him, Juan Soto. Currently, the Yankees are the only team looking to make a deal for Juan Soto as most organizations are petrified of him being a one-year rental.
Yankees have claimed OF Oscar Gonzalez off waivers from Cleveland. In 173 at bats last season, his slash line was 214/239/312 with 2 HR and 12 RBI. In his career, he has 13 HR and 55 RBI and a 269/299/413 in 145 games.
— JackCurryYES (@JackCurryYES) December 1, 2023
Yankees Acquire Oscar Gonzalez
Adding Gonzalez will significantly help to lengthen out the Yankee outfield, which was running on fumes last season. Following Aaron Judge’s injury, Yankees outfielders significantly underperformed at the plate, due to a lack of quality depth. At points last year, the team had Jake Bauers playing as a makeshift left fielder who significantly struggled defensively. The Yankees are moving quickly to fill in the gaps in case more outfielders go down with injuries in the coming season. A few weeks ago the Yankees were trying to acquire Manuel Margot from the Rays as a depth piece but eventually opted against a trade.
However, acquiring Gonzalez from the Guardians makes more sense, because they will not lose any depth like they would from a trade. In addition, Gonzalez during his rookie season was a menace at the plate, and mind you, it was only two seasons ago.
Gonzalez’s Track Record
During Gonzalez’s rookie season, he had a batting average of .296, hit 11 home runs, and maintained an OPS of almost .800. In the Guardians’ breakout season of 2022, Gonzalez seemed to be part of a young core of new players including Steven Kwan, Triston McKenzie, and Josh Naylor.
Following a difficult 2023 campaign, Cleveland put him out on waivers. Limited to only 54 major league games, he hit .214 with two home runs and an OPS of .551. He also finished with a -1.4 WAR, meaning he was hurting the Guardians when he played.
The reason why the Guardians could not keep Gonzalez is simply because they could not afford him. The team tends to work within a tight budget and therefore can not afford Gonzalez the time to figure it out. Releasing him was the only realistic option they had, and now he starts anew with the Bronx Bombers hopeful of rejuvenating his career.
Oscar Gonzalez could be an important pickup down the road for the Yankees, as he has proved capable of success in the majors. He could also play crucial innings if any of the star players were to get injured. Also, the acquisition will not hinder the Yankees’ pursuit of Juan Soto. At first glance, this looks like a smart move by the front office.
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