Should the SF Giants trade outfielder Mike Yastrzemski?

As the SF Giants enter 2024 with a crowded outfield, is it time for the team to trade Mike Yastrzemski?
San Francisco Giants v Colorado Rockies
San Francisco Giants v Colorado Rockies / Dustin Bradford/GettyImages

One position group the SF Giants will surely look to upgrade this offseason is their outfield. The group underperformed last year as freshly-signed Mitch Haniger struggled mightily, Mike Yastrzemski dealt with injury, Joc Pederson did not live up to his 2022 numbers, and Michael Conforto was about average.

Should the SF Giants trade outfielder Mike Yastrzemski?

While Pederson seems likely to leave in free agency, Conforto’s decision to opt in to his contract means that most of the outfield will remain the same going into 2024 if the Giants do nothing. 

After the poor performance of the outfield last year, the Giants will almost certainly not trot out the same group. Either through free agency or via trade, they are likely to make one or several moves to improve the outfield both defensively and offensively. 

If they do make a move, that means that they will likely have to thin out the herd they currently have in the outfield which could render longtime outfielder Mike Yastrzemski the odd man out. 

Yastrzemski has been with the Giants since 2019 when he burst onto the scene as a rookie who impressed with the bat. He has not quite lived up to the high expectations we had for him after his debut, but when he has been healthy he has been a solid major-league outfielder. In 106 games last year, he hit .233/.330/.445 (113 OPS+) with 15 home runs and 43 RBI. 

He is also 33 years old and struggled with a nagging hamstring injury last season. As the Giants look at their current outfield options, Yastrzemski seems like he could be one they could get a decent return on by trading him to a contender.

No one will want to take on Mitch Haniger’s salary after last year’s struggles. The team would likely need to pay down some of Conforto’s salary if they traded him. Austin Slater could be another option to trade but he would not yield as much of a return as Yastrzemski would.

Plus, there is also the fact that the Giants have younger outfielders like Luis Matos and Tyler Fitzgerald who they will likely want to work into the mix as well. 

However, it is important to note that Yaz is one of the leaders on this Giants team. With Brandon Crawford likely gone, Yastrzemski, Logan Webb, Wilmer Flores, and Thairo Estrada are the current leaders of the team.

It could upset clubhouse chemistry if the Giants decide to trade a player who hustles and goes about his business as professionally as anyone in the league. 

Yet, given the fact that the outfield is overcrowded, the Giants may decide that trading Yaz is the best way to get a modest return and free up a spot in the outfield.

Personally, I hope the Giants do not trade Yastrzemski. He may not put up the greatest numbers but there is something to be said for his hustle and leadership. At the same time, I would understand if the front office decides it is the right move to make in order to upgrade the outfield. In an offseason likely to be full of tough decisions for the SF Giants, deciding whether to trade the veteran outfielder may be one of the toughest.