Starling Marte
Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

The MLB trade deadline is this week and the New York Yankees have lots of options. Which player should they pursue the hardest?

The New York Yankees are in a position where they simply have to make a trade.

Not to rain on trading for reliever Clay Holmes, but that’s a Band-Aid solution. He’s only an extra arm in what has to be a tired, tired bullpen.

Meanwhile, find a New York Yankees outfielder not named Aaron Judge who is hitting well. Giancarlo Stanton doesn’t count because he hasn’t played in the field all season. Brett Gardner is a shell of himself, and both Clint Frazier and Miguel Andujar are injured. So is Aaron Hicks, whose $70 million contract extension officially looks like a mistake.

Oh, and let’s not forget a rotation that desperately needs a boost behind Gerrit Cole. Plus, the infield bats need a boost too as Gleyber Torres’ struggles continue.

General manager Brian Cashman has a lot of pressure to make that game-changing deal. If he focuses on one of the following five players, perhaps the season can be salvaged.

The question, though, is of the five, who fits the New York Yankees best?

Max Scherzer

It’s unlikely that the Yankees will be in on Scherzer, who is in the last year of his contract with the Washington Nationals. The future Hall-of-Famer turned 37 on Tuesday, but has a 2.83 ERA and 12.2 K/9 in 2021. Washington, meanwhile, is fourth in the NL East and 8.5 behind the New York Mets.

Yet, Cashman would be wise to at least call the Nationals about Scherzer. ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports the Yankees’ AL East rivals, the Tampa Bay Rays, have checked in on Scherzer. Meanwhile, Mark Feinsand of states Scherzer “strongly prefers the West Coast” as to waiving his no-trade clause.

Here’s the rub. The New York Yankees might not have the pieces needed to land Scherzer, but they can at least drive up his price. Per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, Scherzer’s $210 million contract has so much deferred money that whichever team trades for him wouldn’t owe him a penny this season.

He could certainly help the Yankees too and Cashman is still capable of pulling off some good trades, but the odds here seem low.

Starling Marte

I mentioned last month how Marte would be a great short-term option for the New York Yankees. He’s batting .303 thus far, his deal is up after the season, and Bob Nightengale of USA Today recently reported he turned down a three-year, $30 million extension from the Miami Marlins.

Naturally, the Yankees are already working the phones on Marte. Brendan Kuty of recently wrote how the Bronx Bombers called the Marlins about him as recently as late last Thursday night. However, Craig Mish and Jordan McPherson of The Miami Herald wrote last week how the San Francisco Giants are a “key” team to watch as Marte is shopped.

Simply put, if Cashman can get over himself and focus on the well-being of the New York Yankees instead of winning the trade, acquiring Marte is a very real possibility.

Max Kepler

Speaking of outfielders, Kuty also added the Yankees are interested in Kepler, the Minnesota Twins’ lefty-swinging outfielder in the midst of a frustrating season. He’s only batting .219 with 13 home runs and 36 RBI, a far cry from the 36 home runs he slugged two years ago.

Yet, there are complications. Kuty mentioned the Twins’ wanted an “exorbitant” package in return. Furthermore, if Kepler is traded, his new team will be tied to him for at least two more years. He is owed $15.25 million over this stretch, and also has a $10 million club option for 2024.

Kepler is also more of a right fielder than center fielder, which could complicate things. Aaron Judge can handle center without issue, but he’s an elite fielder in right. Plus, Kepler’s hitting struggles might not fit the team currently. Even so, if Cashman is willing to part with someone like Frazier or pitcher Clarke Schmidt, Kepler’s lefty bat alone could make him a worthy addition.

Trevor Story

The Colorado Rockies continue to be a nightmare that Freddy Krueger himself wouldn’t touch, and Trevor Story will leave either via a trade or free agency this winter. ESPN’s Buster Olney reported the New York Yankees were indeed interested in him, with a specific goal in mind.

This makes sense, particularly since Torres’ defense at shortstop continues to be a problem. If Story became a Yankee, he and Torres would swap positions while DJ LeMahieu moved to first place. This would leave regular first baseman Luke Voit as the odd man out, but he’s never been healthy this season.

Be it by benching Voit, or moving him to DH and gambling on Stanton’s legs in the outfield, the Yankees need to be aggressive in pursuing Story. He’s batting an uncharacteristic .240 this year, but that can be traced to a .285 BABIP and a dip in flyball rate. Story is also pulling the ball more this year as opposed to using the whole field.

Yet, the New York Yankees face an uphill battle. Longtime MLB insider Jon Heyman appeared on WFAN’s Moose and Maggie on Tuesday and said the team’s offer to Colorado “wasn’t a great offer.”

Even if that is the case, the Rockies are in zero position to make demands. Everyone knows how incompetent the front office is now. If Cashman stays aggressive, they’ll eventually fold.

Joey Gallo

Let’s make one thing clear: Joey Gallo can be frustrating to watch. If he’s not socking home runs to the Delta Quadrant, he’s either drawing a walk or striking out.

Yet, Gallo seems to have righted something this season. He has a line of .222/.380/.484 and has 24 home runs with 56 RBI. Jon Morosi of MLB Network not only reported the New York Yankees as interested, but also added an interesting stat.

Gallo also plays great right field defense, posting a 12 DRS and an OAA of 6 this year alone. This solves the Aaron Judge problem, as he could theoretically handle center the rest of this year with Gallo in right.

The twist is, like with Kepler, any team who trades for Gallo is making a commitment beyond 2021. Next year marks his last year of arbitration, so the New York Yankees would potentially look to keep him.

He’s not the most conventional addition, but the Yankees definitely have more reasons to like Joey Gallo than they do not pursue a deal.

And the winner is: Trevor Story

This was a tough decision, but Trevor Story is the best trade option for the New York Yankees. The outfield is crowded enough that trading for either Gallo or Kepler will cause future headaches. Marte’s expiring deal makes him an ideal target, but he doesn’t have much power anymore and is another righty bat.

And even if the Rockies hold firm and demand a better offer, the Yankees should make it. Cashman has enough suitable pieces that if he lets winning the trade slide, Trevor Story can put on the pinstripes. Throw in his expiring deal with the potential of the Yankees extending him, and this is who Cashman’s man should be this July.

Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.