SAN FRANCISCO — In search of a left-handed bat, the Dodgers acquired Yankees outfielder Joey Gallo for right-hander Clayton Beeter, the 15th-ranked prospect in the organization according to MLB Pipeline, the club announced ahead of the Yankees’ trade deadline. Tuesday.
“A year ago I was worth a lot in the industry, [he] he was traded for a lot,” Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said. “The true level of talent remains. We’re looking forward to bringing him here, bringing him with our guys, there’s a really compelling positive story.”
The Dodgers get: DE Joey Gallo
Yankees get: RHP Clayton Beeter (Dodgers’ No. 15 prospect)
The Dodgers came into the day hoping to pull off a successful trade for Juan Soto. With Soto joining the rival Padres, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman had to move on to another target.
Gallo, a two-time All-Star, has had a nightmare season with the Yankees, hitting a .159 average with 12 home runs. The 28-year-old is known for his power, but he hasn’t been able to take advantage of it this season. His average exit velocity is 88.4 mph this season, the lowest since the 2016 season when he was limited to just 17 games.
The outfielder is also known for his high swing-to-miss rate, having led the Majors in strikeouts last season. That has become an even bigger problem this year, as Gallo has hit 106 times in 233 at-bats. His strikeout rate of 38.8% this season ranks in the bottom one percent of the league. In his short time with the Yankees, Gallo struck out 194 times in 140 games.
Despite Gallo’s severe struggles over the past year, the Dodgers hope a change of scenery will help the slugger return to his former form. Before joining the Yankees last July, Gallo was an All-Star and had 25 home runs with an .869 OPS with the Rangers. He was also an All-Star in 2019, posting a career-high .986 OPS.
“I think obviously [he has] elite power off the charts,” Friedman said. “Very good decision-making in the box, very good defender in the outfield who has some hits and misses in his game, for sure. I think coming into a different environment, our hitting guys are as good as they can get. … And all year long we’ve been a little short on the outfield. So adding a good defensive outfielder helps too.”
It will be interesting how the Dodgers find consistent playing time for Gallo. With Chris Taylor still on the disabled list, Gallo will share time with Trayce Thompson in left field. Gallo, who is hitting .102 against lefties, will not play against lefties. However, he has 11 of his 12 home runs against righties.
When Taylor returns, Gallo’s role could be affected. The Dodgers could also have Taylor or Thompson play more center field, relegating a struggling Cody Bellinger to a platoon role. James Outman, who is off to a historic start to his career, could be the outsider once Taylor returns.
Until then, though, the Dodgers cleared up their position-player backlog by sending outfielder Jake Lamb to the Mariners for a later naming or money considerations.
Lamb posted a .770 OPS and hit two home runs in 25 games with the Dodgers this season. Since Gallo is a free agent at the end of the season, the Dodgers see the move as low-risk, high-reward.
“He’s going to play and I’ve got to find a way to spread out the playing time for all these guys,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “I asked him to accept this new opportunity, a new beginning.”
Beeter, 23, has a 5.75 ERA in 18 appearances (16 starts) with Double-A Tulsa this season.