SAN FRANCISCO — Looking for a left-handed bat, the Dodgers acquired Yankees outfielder Joey Gallo in exchange for right-handed Clayton Beeter, the No. 15 prospect in the organization by MLB Pipeline, the club announced ahead of Tuesday’s Trade Deadline.
“A year ago he was worth a lot in the industry, [he] was traded for a lot,” said Andrew Friedman, president of Dodgers baseball operations. “The real talent level remains. We’re excited to get him here, get him to our boys, there’s a really compelling story on its head.”
Dodgers get: FROM Joey Gallo
Getting Yankees: RHP Clayton Beeter (Dodgers’ No. 15 prospect)
The Dodgers came into the day hoping to land a blockbuster 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 with the Yankees, averaging .159 with 12 home runs. The 28-year-old is known for his strength, but he has not been able to tap into it this season. His average exit speed 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-and-miss rate, as he led the Majors in strikeouts last season. That has become an even bigger problem this year, as Gallo made 106 appearances in 233 at bats. His strikeout percentage of 38.8% this season is among the bottom one percent in the league. In his short time with the Yankees, Gallo scored 194 goals in 140 games.
Despite Gallo’s fierce battle over the past year, the Dodgers hope a change of scenery will help the slugger return to his old form. Before joining the Yankees in July, Gallo was an All-Star and had 25 home runs with a .869 OPS with the Rangers. He was also an All-Star in 2019, with a career high .986 OPS.
“I think, of course, [he has] elite, off-the-charts power,” Friedman said. “Really good decision-making in the penalty area, really good defender in the outfield who definitely has some swing-and-miss in his game. I think if we go to a different environment, our batters will be as good as can be… And all year round we’ve been a little short in the outfield. So it helps to add a really good defensive outfielder too.”
How the Dodgers find consistent playing time for Gallo will be interesting. With Chris Taylor still on the injured list, Gallo will split time with Trayce Thompson in left field. Gallo, who hits .102 against left-handers, will not play against left-handers. However, he has 11 of his 12 home runs on right-handers.
When Taylor returns, Gallo’s role could take a hit. The Dodgers could also have Taylor or Thompson play more in midfield, relegating a struggling Cody Bellinger into a platoon role. James Outman, who has made a historic start to his career, could be an odd man out if Taylor returns.
Until then, however, the Dodgers have fixed their position player log jam by sending outfielder Jake Lamb to the Mariners for a later named player or to raise money.
Lamb registered a .770 OPS and hit two homeruns in 25 games this season with the Dodgers. Since Gallo is a free agent at the end of the season, the Dodgers view the move as a low-risk, high-reward.
“He’s going to play and I have to find a way to allocate the playing time for all these guys,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “My question to him was to embrace this new opportunity, a fresh start, a little bit.”
Beeter, 23, has a 5.75 ERA in 18 appearances (16 starts) this season with Double-A Tulsa.