The New York Yankees are gearing up for an aggressive free agency once the lockout finally comes to an end, despite owners and the players union failing to come to an agreement on Saturday. With just days until regular-season games would have to be postponed, things aren’t looking good for a full 2022 season, but even if they play half the campaign, New York will have to add players at some point in time.
Having been connected to several different free agents this off-season, the Yankees only have so much money to spend, depending on the luxury tax threshold established through the new CBA. Owner Hal Steinbrenner and general manager Brian Cashman stayed put before the lockout commenced, hoping they could achieve more financial security before spending big money on new players.
Ranking the Yankees’ top free-agent targets:
1.) 1B Freddie Freeman
Recent reports indicate that the Yankees could aggressively pursue after first baseman Freddie Freeman. Coming off a World Series victory with the Atlanta Braves, Freeman posted a .300 average with 31 homers and 83 RBIs this past season, including a 15.4% strikeout rate and 12.2% walk rate. Defensively, Freeman is nothing special, hovering around the average mark. Offensively, Freeman could sniff 40 home runs in the Yankee stadium, featuring a short right porch.
Freeman is expected to land a six-year deal worth over $150 million, which would take up a significant portion of the Yankees’ available funds. Considering Cashman also has to include the extension of DJ LeMahieu that kicks in next season and Aaron Judge’s mega-deal, he has to spend his money carefully this year.
2.) Seiya Suzuki
The Yankees love their sluggers, which makes Japanese star outfielder Seiyu Suzuki even more attractive. At 27 years old, Suzuki recorded a .317 average with 38 homers last season and 88 RBIs. As a capable outfielder in center and right field, Suzuki would plug a big reserve hole, costing about $55 million over five years.
Suzuki’s capabilities reportedly enticed the Yankees before the lockout, and they will likely be right back in the mix once they’re legally able to negotiate.
3.) Trevor Story
There are concerns over Trevor Story’s arm strength, which could hurt his value as a shortstop for the future. At 29 years old, Story is an above-average solution at SS, a position the Yankees desperately need to plug this off-season.
In 2021, the Colorado Rockies infielder recorded a .251 average with 24 homers and 75 RBIs. He also collected 20 stolen bases. Story fits the Yankees’ offensive mold perfectly and provides above-average defense, which is another benefit. The only issue is that the Yankees will have to overspend on a yearly basis for Story if they want him to sign a short-term contract.
4.) Andrelton Simmons
If Cashman wants to take a more price-efficient route this off-season, Andrelton Simmons of the Minnesota Twins could fit the bill nicely. At 32 years old, Simmons posted a .223 average with three homers and 31 RBIs last year over 131 games. Simmons is known for his contact-hitting, smacking double-digit homers just three times in his 10-year career.
However, he is a defensive stud, winning four gold gloves in his career and recording a .976 fielding percentage last year in Minnesota. Offensively, he’s not the most attractive option on the market for the Yankees, but if they are looking for a defensive maestro, he would be the best option at his price tag.