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Yankees acquire Tim Locastro from Diamondbacks, per report

Locastro has struggled mightily this year but may still be the Yankees’ best option in center field.

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Arizona Diamondbacks Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees have acquired outfielder Tim Locastro from the Diamondbacks for Double-A reliever Keegan Curtis, as The Athletic’s Lindsey Adler first reported Thursday.

While he’s never actually played a game in the Yankees organization, this is Locastro’s second stint with New York — he was acquired from the Dodgers in November 2018, then dealt to Arizona in January 2019. He grew up in Auburn, New York and attended Division III Ithaca College in the Empire State.

Locastro, 28, hasn’t had much offensive success aside from the shortened 2020 season, when he hit .290/.395/.464 over 33 games. He’s struggling at the plate this year, hitting .178/.271/.220 with just three extra-base hits. He remains elite at getting hit by pitches, as he’s been plunked nine times in 133 plate appearances this year and has 36 career HBPs over five seasons.

While he hasn’t gotten on base enough to make a massive impact in the running game this year, he does have five steals in eight attempts. It does appear that he may be losing his touch a bit as a baserunner, as he’s been caught stealing for the first three times as a major leaguer this year after going 29-for-29 to start his career.

Locastro is a solid defender at all three outfield positions. He can hold down center field and has -1 defensive run saved there this year, though he does seems to be a slightly better fit at the corner positions.

Locastro gives the Yankees a more natural right-handed hitting platoon partner for lefty-hitting Brett Gardner. Aaron Judge has frequently been playing center field against lefties in recent weeks with Clint Frazier starting in right, but with Frazier having a miserable defensive season (-10 defensive runs saved between the two corner outfield positions), it seems likely that they’ll now go with Locastro in center against lefties and move Judge back to right field on an everyday basis.

Curtis, a 22nd-round pick in 2018, has a 3.94 ERA and 1.31 WHIP with 27 strikeouts and seven walks in 12 relief appearances for Double-A Somerset this season.