Boone says Yankees a ‘lot better’ with Gallo

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Yankees have answered questions about how they would proceed heading into Friday’s trade deadline.

They are big-time buyers.

All-Star slugger Joey Gallo‘s trade to New York from the Texas Rangers was completed Thursday, giving the heavily right-handed Yankees a much-needed powerful lefty bat.

New York acquired Gallo, left-hander Joely Rodriguez and cash from the Rangers for minor league right-hander Glenn Otto and infielders Ezequiel Duran, Trevor Hauver and Josh Smith.

With switch-hitting center fielder Aaron Hicks hurt, second baseman Rougned Odor and outfielder Brett Gardner have been the only left-handed hitters to see substantial playing time.

“Sign me up for the guy that’s on base almost 40% of the time and has power and provides the kind of potential balance for our lineup,” Boone said before New York lost 14-0 to Tampa Bay. “And on top of it, he’s a two-way player. This is a guy that really defends, can run and do all those things. It’s hard to argue that we’re not a lot better team adding Joey Gallo to us.”

Boone didn’t rule out the Yankees making additional moves.

The 27-year-old Gallo is hitting .223 with 25 homers, 55 RBIs and a major league-leading 74 walks. While he was a Gold Glove-winning right fielder for Texas, Boone envisions Gallo playing a lot in left for the Yankees, who have Aaron Judge as their regular right fielder.

“Obviously the power stands out, the plate discipline stands out, and the defensive prowess that he brings in multiple positions is something that people don’t give him as much credit for,” Yankees ace Gerrit Cole said.

Team officials, including owner Hal Steinbrenner and general manager Brian Cashman, have been holding meetings in nearby Tampa, Florida.

“Part of the reason I’m here is because Hal always goes for it, and so does Brian,” Cole said. “Continue to push chips in. I trust that they’re going to do what’s best for the organization, what’s best to win. I trust they’re going to try and make us better one way or another, and they did.”

Boone talked on the phone for about five minutes with Gallo, who is expected join the team for Friday night’s game at Miami.

“We’re excited to add an All-Star,” Boone said. “I let him know how excited we are.”

Gallo is owed $2.2 million from his $6.2 million salary. He is eligible for arbitration next winter and can became a free agent after the 2022 season.

Jon Daniels, Texas’ president of baseball operations, said it was emotional to trade away a homegrown star. He said there had been some discussions about a contract extension, but the former GM said it was clear the chances for a deal now were unrealistic, making a trade the best alternative for the last-place Rangers.

“Obviously if we’re in a different competitive spot, we weren’t in a rebuilding situation, which we are and have acknowledged and talked about, this could look a little different,” Daniels said.

Daniels said the Rangers included cash in the deal to offset the bulk of the remaining salaries for Gallo and Rodriguez, who is owed about $887,000 from his $2.5 million salary and has a $3 million team option next season that includes a $500,000 buyout.

Gallo, a two-time All-Star, is a career .211 hitter in seven seasons, but launches a lot of longballs. He hit 41 home runs in 2017 and 40 in 2018.

“We’re going to have nights where we punch out double digits but if our guys do what they’re capable of, we’re going to be on a base a ton,” Boone said.

The Yankees began the day 8 1/2 games behind Boston in the AL East and trailing Tampa Bay, Oakland and Seattle in the wild-card race for two spots.

Rodriguez, 29, is 1-3 with one save and a 5.93 ERA in 31 relief appearances this season, holding left-handed batters to a .176 average. He is 2-5 with a 5.05 ERA in 81 relief appearances over four seasons with Philadelphia (2016-17) and Texas (2020-21), and he was 3-7 with a 1.85 ERA over 90 relief appearances in 2018-19 for the Chunichi Dragons of Japan’s Central League.

Duran, 22, hit .290 with 15 doubles, six triples, 12 homers and 48 RBIs this season in 67 games with High-A Hudson Valley.

Hauver, 22, made his professional debut this season with Low-A Tampa, hitting .288 with 17 doubles, nine homers and 49 RBIs in 66 games.

Otto, 25, was 7-3 with a 3.33 ERA in 12 starts and one relief appearance with Double-A Somerset and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this season.

Smith, 23, hit .324 with 12 doubles, nine homers, 24RBIs and 17 stolen bases in 39 games with Low-A Tampa and High-A Hudson Valley.

Daniels said the Rangers acquired three players they see as eventually becoming everyday bats in the big leagues, along with a young Texas-born starting pitcher who could get his first shot in the majors later this season. Daniels said all four were critical to getting the deal completed.

“Overall, it’s a really good value, four players that we’re excited about,” Daniels said. “It made sense to us, and we believe it’ll make sense to our fans in time.”