New York Yankees: 2021 Free Agents, who should the Yankees consider?

Oct 4, 2019; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros left fielder Michael Brantley (23) runs after hitting a single against the Tampa Bay Rays during the fifth inning of game one of the 2019 ALDS playoff baseball series at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees have their lineup set for the delayed 2020 baseball season and, to a lesser degree, the pitching rotation.  The area they must address as the season finally starts is pitching.  The starting rotation will be led by newly acquired Gerrit Cole followed by either Masahiro Tanaka or James Paxton, and then fourth in the rotation will be J.A. Happ and most likely Jordan Montgomery bringing up the rear.

The only question is whether Paxton will be ready for the start of the season as he is still rehabbing from back surgery. If he’s not, the Yankees will have to consider Jonathan Loaisiga, Clarke Shmidt, Micheal King, or even Dievi Garcia.  Some relief will come late in the season when Domingo German returns from his suspension.

There are a few concerns the New York Yankee will need to address during the season.  The major one is how Gleyber Torres will fair in his first full year at short.  The Yankees decided not to trade for a veteran shortstop when they lost Didi Gregorius to free agency.  They put their faith in Torres, hoping he could adequately handle the position.  They may have to look at 2021 free agents to fill the spot if Torres fails.

Other areas of concern include if Kyle Higashioka can handle the job of backup catcher assuming Gary Sanchez has his usual injuries.  The Yankees lost Austin Romine to the Tigers.  Another questionable job is that of the left-fielder. With Giancarlo Stanton’s durability in question that leaves Mike Tauchman and Clint Frazier to fill in.  Should Stanton become a permanent DH, the Yankees may be looking for a left-fielder.

Looking at the shortstop position, the New York Yankees should consider free agent Marcus Semien.  Semien signed a one year $13,000,000 contract with the Oakland Athletics last year.  Semien is a very adequate shortstop with a .981 fielding percentage compared to Torre’s meager .954.  Torres hit 38 homers, and Semien hit 33 although Semien has a higher batting average.  Overall, Semien would be an upgrade over Gleyber Torres.  Semien actually has a better fielding percentage at short than the superstar Francisco Lindor.

As for catcher Yadier Molina of the famous Milina brothers will be available after the 2020 season.  However, it is likely he would be a short term fix as he is now 38 years old.  A better choice would be the Phillies J.T. Realmuto, who is just 29.  Realmuto has a better batting average than “Higgy,” and he hit 25 home runs last year.  The biggest plus is that he, by way of stats, is a better catcher than Gary Sanchez with a superb fielding percentage of .992, making him one of the best fielding catchers in the business.  The only downside is that the Yankees may not want to pay a backup catcher $10MM.

When considering the New York Yankees outfield, the Yankees are not in a dire situation but still may wish to bolster it by going out and getting a veteran left-fielder.  There will be several available in 2021.  My pick would be Yoenis Cespedes, but there is no way the Yankees will anty up the $30MM salary he will demand.  That leaves the 32-year-old Michael Brantley, who is an 11 year veteran of left-field play.  Brantley has a fantastic .992 fielding percentage while hitting .311 last year with the Houston Astros and hitting 22 home runs.

Whatever the case, the New York Yankees will be watching these positions very closely this year and, as always, will be looking to improve the team during the 2020-21 postseason if necessary.