More than other teams, the New York Yankees have been highly affected by Rob Manfred’s baseball lockout, as they didn’t make any moves to improve the team before that lockout was imposed. The Yankees still have their major priorities unmet. They still need a quality shortstop to replace Gleyber Torres, they need to bolster the starting rotation and to make a decision on who will be the starting first baseman.
Opinions on social media have swung wildly during the lockout regarding the retention of Luke Voit at first base or to re-sign Anthony Rizzo, who was acquired last season at the trade deadline. There has been interest in Freddie Freeman, especially after his struggle getting a new contract with the World Series-winning Braves.
The Braves offered him $180 million over six years to stay with the team, an offer he rejected. At the same time, the Yankees may have been internally discussing a trade with the Athletics for first baseman Matt Olson. Those seemed unlikely, Freeman for the cost and Olson as the A’s would like to strip the Yankees of prime prospects.
Now things have taken another turn as the Cubs have apparently been discussing bringing Rizzo back for another year. Rizzo was a star for the Cubs for many years, actually all of his career, before being traded to the Yankees last season. This might be more competition for the Yankees, with no decision one way or the other, it might be a bidding war that the Yankees probably won’t be interested in, with their other needs.
Make no mistake about it, Rizzo, although approaching the later part of his career, is still a quality defensive first baseman and a pesky lefty at the plate. Any team would happy to have him in their starting lineup. But with interest increasing for Rizzo, it may leave the Yankees to reconsider Freeman or Olson.
Earlier in the month, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, Freeman is on their radar:
“The Yankees are expected to take a run at Freddie Freeman, who they love. Though 1B isn’t their real need, they’d love to fit one of the game’s best lefty hitters into their lineup. With the Braves not quickly wrapping up their star, all are options are on the table for Freeman.”
With Rizzo’s likely salary being in the $14-18 million range for next season, Freeman does not seem out of the question. The decision regarding Matt Olson is far more complicated. The Yankees have made it clear that they will not be dealing Anthony Volpe or Oswald Peraza in any trade this season. That would mean the Yankees might have to nearly strip the farm system of prospects to reign in Olson from the A’s.
However, all of this might be moot if the sides in the CBA negotiations can’t come to a compromise and new agreement. Presently, it looks as if the start of spring training will be delayed. One thing is for sure, and that is that the Yankees are going to have to pounce when the lockout is over, as half of the prospects they need to fill the teams’ holes have already gone to other teams. At the present, Voit, after the lockout, may be traded, taking him out of the equation and making the search for a new first baseman even more intriguing.
Considering all of this, there is at least one other option. General Manager Brian Cashman, who is always secretive in his workings, may surprise us all with a pick that no one has thought off, just like he did with DJ LeMahieu.