The New York Yankees haven’t made any progress with their next shortstop due to the lockout. It all started when the Yankees admitted that their experiment with Gleyber Torres had failed at short and permanently moved him to second base at the end of the season. That move left the Yankees with several players at the position for the remainder of the season and no clear shortstop for 2022.
General Manager Brian Cashman made it clear even before the end of the World Series that his top priority was to get a star-like shortstop to fill the position. But before the ink had dried on that thought, they wavered and said they might look to the stopgap avenue waiting for prospects Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza to assume the position.
Meanwhile, a new Collective Bargaining Agreement for the players came and went when a new CBA couldn’t be agreed upon by the December 1 deadline. That caused the Yankees to be left out in the dark as other teams made significant moves to improve their teams before MLB instituted a lockdown, forbidding any major league transactions.
The Yankees basically sat back and watched the action while doing nothing to fill the holes in the team. They saw Marcus Semien and Corey Seager, two prime shortstops go to the Texas Rangers. They also saw starting pitcher Robbie Ray go to the Seattle Mariners, Kevin Gausman go to Toronto Blue Jays, and Eduardo Rodriguez go to the Detroit Tigers. Another priority for the Yankees is to land a No. 2 starting pitcher behind ace Gerrit Cole.
Now the Yankees are left to select from a reduced pool of players to fill their needs. They won’t be able to start that process until a new CBA can be reached. That process has seen only one meeting since the deadline. Today the owner and players will have their first face-to-face meeting with the players presenting their counter-proposal after rejecting the owner’s proposal.
Yankee general manager Brian Cashman still has not shown his hand on whether he will continue to go the route of a star player to fill the shortstop position or go with a lesser player on a short contract. Here is a look at those players still available to the Yankees.
If the Yankees still want to make a splash by hiring free-agent star shortstop Carlos Correa they will have to deal with Correa and high profile agent Scott Boris who will be looking for a huge contract mirroring that given to Corey Seager by the Rangers. He got $325 million over ten years. That will be more than the Yankee’s want on the books, and an Aaron Judge extension looming. Being the youngest shortstop on the market (27), Correa will give Boris even more bargaining power. It would be a big surprise if the Yankees go this route.
Free-agent Trevor Story, age 29, is a former Colorado Rockie and is the second-best shortstop still on the market. Story has been of interest to the Yankees before when they tried to trade for him before the trade deadline this past season. The Rockies and Yankees couldn’t agree then and likely won’t now. Brian Hock of MLB.com has said the Yankees have since soured on Story and likely won’t pursue him now. Story, a five-tool player would be a significant upgrade for the Yankees and not as costly as Correa.
Next in line is Andrelton Simmons, one of the best defensive shortstops of the last several years. But there is a big problem here, he is old (32). Add to that, he is coming off a dismal season with a slash line of .223/.283/.274, something that can’t be attractive to the Yankees regardless of his glove prowess. Only a short contract at a low price could entice the Yankees to move on Simmons.
If you discount those three shortstops, there isn’t much left for the Yankees. Some say they will do nothing and move Gio Urshela to short, where he was serviceable for 28 games last season. Other analysts see the Yankees going the short gap avenue trading for players like Nick Ahmed of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Harold Castro of the Tigers, Isiah Kiner-Falefa of the Rangers, Kevin Newman of the Pirates, or Willie Adames of the Brewers. Besides those players, there are a host of low-cost players that Cashman could get creative with.
One thing is for sure when the owners and players can come to an agreement, the Yankees are going to have to pounce quickly with spring training less than a month away so that they can concentrate on their several other needs.