While several MLB teams are making big moves in MLB free agency, including the team across town, the New York Mets, the New York Yankees have remained very quiet so far. They haven’t done anything yet to improve their roster from the 2021 MLB season.
In fact, they have actually gone backward. Anthony Rizzo, Rougned Odor, Tyler Wade, Clint Frazier, Brett Gardner, and Corey Kluber, who were all contributors on the roster last season, are not currently with the Yankees and none of their production has been replaced yet.
What are the Yankees Waiting For?
The Yankees have saved some money with the departures, so that could indicate that general manager Brian Cashman has a big move that he’s working on behind the scenes. It could possibly be a trade that has not yet leaked to the public but it’s more likely that a deal is being worked on for one of the top remaining free agents. The Yankees also have to pay Aaron Judge soon if they want to keep him for the future so that could play a factor in their inactivity as well.
The other major potential roadblock to the entire 2021 MLB offseason is the absence of a new CBA. The current one is set to expire as soon as the calendar changes to December. Certain free agents may be waiting until a new CBA is reached first before they sign anywhere. It’s a gamble, but some may believe the wait will get them a bigger contract later. The Yankees could also be taking the wait-and-see approach before they make any major moves.
Regardless of the new CBA, a new contract for Aaron Judge is going to be expensive no matter what. If the Yankees keep him, it would be the third mega-contract on the books, along with Giancarlo Stanton and Gerrit Cole. If they want to improve the roster beyond that, they will almost definitely have to exceed the luxury tax threshold. They have been unwilling to do so in recent years, but maybe the extended World Series drought will change their financial strategy moving forward.
Making a Splash in MLB Free Agency
While many of the top 2021 MLB free agents have already signed with a team, there is plenty of talent still left in the pool. The Yankees front office, including Brian Cashman, has already admitted that shortstop is their biggest area of concern for next year. Gleyber Torres was moved off of shortstop and back to second base towards the end of last season, which slid DJ LeMahieu over to third base and Gio Urshela to shortstop.
If the Yankees decide to stick with this defensive alignment, they should really sign a first baseman. They could either bring back Anthony Rizzo or upgrade to Freddie Freeman. Either one improves both the Yankees offense and defense over Luke Voit, while also adding a lefty batter to the lineup of mostly right-handed hitters. Rizzo seems to be the more logical choice, considering he was with the Yankees last season and fit in well with their philosophy. He was their best defensive first baseman since Mark Teixeira and regularly hit towards the top of the order.
The other option for the Yankees is to bring in an elite shortstop from free agency. Corey Seager was the one that seemed to be the best fit, especially his lefty bat, but he has already signed with the Texas Rangers. Carlos Correa is the best overall available player currently on the market. He is an excellent defensive shortstop who would also hit in the heart of the batting order. The same can be said for Trevor Story, who the Yankees were rumored to have interest in at the MLB trade deadline last year.
While Story is a slight step down from Correa, either one of them would be a major upgrade for the Yankees. An everyday elite shortstop is something the Yankees would benefit greatly from. They have been missing stability at the position since parting ways with Didi Gregorius a couple of years ago. Adding a shortstop would likely move Urshela back to third base and slide LeMahieu over to first base. Alternatively, if the Yankees also add a first baseman or if Voit plays first, LeMahieu could play third base as well.
Getting Over the Hump
Whether it be bringing back Rizzo or making the real splash move by signing Correa, the Yankees would be wise to upgrade their lineup prior to the 2022 MLB season. Their batting order, as it currently sits, leaves more to be desired. The Yankees continue making the postseason every year but have failed to get over the hump and back to the World Series in over a decade. They have to do something different if they want to change their fortunes. Making a big move in MLB Free Agency is a strong way to attack it.
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