Ketel Marte
Courtesy IG: @ketel_marte4

The Yankees need help in centerfield. Could the answer be playing in the desert?

Tab Bamford

The Yankees have a glaring need: centerfield. It’s a problem that has plagued them for a couple years, and it’s become clear that Aaron Hicks isn’t going to solve it in 2021 both based on his play and injury.

So how can Brian Cashman solve the problem quickly and affordably?

Call Arizona. Make them an offer they can’t refuse.

The Answer

Ketel Marte is the perfect player for the Yankees in almost every way.

He’s a stud. Marte missed time this year because of an early season hamstring issue but his numbers are starting to climb since his return last week. He posted a 148 OPS+ in 2019 and is at 167 this season (albeit limited because of the injury). His career slash line is .284/.342/.448 and he showed a huge jump in power in 2019, hitting 32 home runs with 92 RBI.

He’s affordable. Marte signed a five-year, $24M deal with the Diamondbacks before the 2020 season, which means he has three more years of control after the 2021 season. According to Spotrac, he’s due $30M over the next three seasons – a number that’s very doable for the Yankees.

He’s versatile. He has experience playing both middle infield positions but has transitioned into a centerfielder with the Diamondbacks. To be clear, Marte isn’t Ken Griffey Jr. or Andruw Jones, but he’s a solid defensive player in the outfield.

He isn’t too old. Marte won’t turn 28 until Oct. 12, meaning his contract will take him through his age-30 season. That’s an ideal spot for the Yankees who will have to find room for Jasson Dominguez at some point.

At what cost?

The Diamondbacks could be in sell mode sooner than later. They’re currently in last place in the NL West, 13 games out of first. With the Padres and Dodgers all-in this year and for the next couple years, the DBacks could look to start their rebuild before the deadline.

If we look back at the last blockbuster trade that involved Arizona, there may be a route to a deal. In December 2018, Arizona sent all-star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt to the Cardinals for catcher Carson Kelly, pitcher Luke Weaver and minor league infielder Andy Young.

Goldschmidt was 31 at the time and looking for a new contract, so his situation and age were different than Marte.

It took a couple years but Kelly has turned into a solid major league catcher for Arizona. Weaver, a former first round pick, has been a disappointment thus far for the Diamondbacks. He was 1-9 last year. And Young has accumulated 74 career MLB plate appearances in his age-27 season.

If Arizona is looking to rebuild, they’ll want prospects who could make an impact sooner than later.

So let’s say the Yankees offered outfielder Estevan Florial, shortstop Josh Smith and pitcher Albert Abreu to the Diamondbacks for Marte?

Florial is the Yankees’ No. 10 prospect right now and would be the gem in the deal. Smith is a solid shortstop prospect but he likely falls behind at least 2-3 others in the Yankees’ system at the position, including Oswald Peraza. And Abreu could help their major league staff immediately.

What say you? Should the Yankees make the call?