The approaching hoofbeats of the July 30 MLB trade deadline -- it's a horse, you see -- grow louder, as do trade speculation and rumors. Much of that speculation has swirled about Texas Rangers outfielder Joey Gallo. As such, we're here to undertake a Gallo-centered trade deadline primer. Beautiful bean footage? Rolling now.
Why Gallo may be on the block
The Rangers are, by a distant margin, in last place in the otherwise tough AL West, and they're on pace for 105 losses, which would make for one of the worst seasons in franchise history. In matters related, the SportsLine Projection System gives Texas less than a 1.0 percent chance of making the postseason. More broadly, they're bound headlong for a fifth straight losing season. Change is sorely needed.
At this point, every key decision-maker should be fired, but there's little sign of that happening. Instead, the team may undertake a deadline selloff. Their most lucrative "asset" when it comes to such endeavors is Gallo.
We'll get into Gallo's merits as a baseball player below, but before that we'll note that he's not eligible for free agency until after the 2022 season. That extra year of team control -- or, stated another way, the fact that Gallo isn't a "rental" -- means that the Rangers can expect a heftier return in trade. On top of all that, Gallo is owed just around $2 million for the remainder of the season, which is a massive bargain given his value on the field. Given how poor the major league roster is and that the farm system is solid but not elite (solid-to-good assuming No. 2 overall draft pick Jack Leiter signs), a trade of Gallo could bring in some quality young talent and aid in an organizational reset.
All that said, it's entirely possible that Gallo winds up signing a long-term extension with the Rangers and staying put. We'll know soon enough.
Why teams might want him
Gallo combines a plus glove in right field with elite power from the left side. This season, he's batting .223/.379/.490 with 25 home runs and an AL-leading 74 walks. Backing it up are some impressive batted-ball metrics. To wit, Gallo this season ranks in the top 3.0 percent of MLB when it comes to barrel rate, which is how often he hits the ball with the ideal combination of exit velocity and launch angle. Speaking of exit velocity, his max reading of 115.1 mph is in the top 5.0 percent of MLB. He's also continued a three-year trend of improving his chase rate on pitches outside the strike zone. This season, his chase rate is in the 92nd percentile. Gallo's rising barrel rate and improving plate discipline bode very well for the future, and at age 27 he should still be in peak form for some time.
For his career, Gallo has an OPS+ of 116, which means his park-adjusted OPS has been 16 percent better than the league average. Since the start of the 2019 season, however, he's had an OPS+ of 127. This year, he checks in with a figure of 138.
Gallo's standout glove and bat in tandem with that additional year of team control noted above make him a coveted deadline commodity -- if, that is, the Rangers are willing to deal him.
Where could Gallo land?
New York Yankees
The Yankees remain in contention despite a raft of blown leads and injuries. The outfield is a particularly troubling situation, and Gallo would address that problem in a direct way. As well, the Yankees this season rank ninth in the AL in home runs against right-handed pitching and 10th in OPS against right-handed pitching. Gallo would address those deficits, as well.
San Diego Padres
Well, the Padres seem to be in on everyone, so why not Gallo? The San Diego roster is a bit crowded right now in terms of a fit for Gallo, so the addition of Gallo might have to occur in tandem with the departure or one of more current contributors. It's worth mentioning that Gallo in his MLB career has spent time at all three outfield positions and at first base and third base.
Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays are almost as hungry for left-handed power as the Yankees are, and they've also gotten sub-optimal production from one of the outfield corners this season. That outfield situation is pretty crowded, though, which means Gallo's positional flexibility might come in handy in Toronto. Or perhaps one of the current Blue Jay outfielders not named George Springer would head back to Texas in any Gallo swap.
Other Gallo-chasers could emerge before Friday's deadline, but right now it appears to be those three teams. As noted, though, Gallo might wind up staying put, which would greatly extend the window for working out an extension with Texas.