ESPN's Jim Bowden, a former big-league general manager, recently posted his list of the 10 players he sees as most likely to be traded before the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline.
Bowden's list? Zack Greinke, SP; Matt Garza, SP; Shane Victorino, OF; Ryan Dempster, SP; Wandy Rodriguez, SP; Carlos Quentin, OF; Francisco Liriano, SP; Huston Street, RP; Brett Myers, RP; Marco Scutaro, INF.
Would any of those players be a fit for the New York Yankees? At various times the Yankees have been connected, or at least rumored to be interested in, Garza and Dempster, both of the Chicago Cubs, and Wandy Rodriguez of the Houston Astros. Some of that speculation makes sense with Yankees starting pitchers CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte on the disabled list.
The name that jumps out at me, however, is Victorino, the 31-year-old Philadelphia Phillies outfielder. The Phillies, struggling at 37-46 and last in the National League East, seem to be in the mood to dump pieces. Jim Thome was moved to the Baltimore Orioles. Reliever Chad Qualls is a Yankee now. There is speculation that starting pitcher Cole Hamels could be on the trading block, as well.
Victorino is intriguing to the Yankees for several reasons. First, Brett Gardner has been out since early April with an elbow injury and there is no guarantee he is going to play again this year. The Yankees have gotten by with DeWayne Wise, Raul Ibanez, Andruw Jones and Jayson Nix splitting time in left field, but they need an upgrade for the long haul.
Victorino is having a down year, with just a .248 batting average and a .314 on-base percentage, both well below his career averages (.276/.342). He can fill two roles for the Yankees that usually belong to Gardner. He can run, having stolen 19 bases already this season. He can also play center field, allowing the Yankees to give the overworked Curtis Granderson a breather occasionally.
The other reason Victorino is intriguing? Nick Swisher is a free agent at the end of the season and it is widely expected that the suddenly budget-conscious Yankees will allow Swisher, making $10.25 million this season, to move on. Victorino is also a free agent, making $9.5 million this season.
Thus, perhaps the Yankees could look at Victorino as a rental to fill in for Gardner. Perhaps they could look at him as a Gardner fill-in and a long-term replacement for Swisher, if they believe his price tag would be somewhat cheaper than Swisher's.
Victorino to the Yankees via trade seems unlikely right now. It is, however, worthy of thinking about.