The New York Yankees have been linked to a variety of different first basemen this off-season, but the consensus is they will bring in a new player to fill the position despite Luke Voit working hard to earn an opportunity at the starting job. Unfortunately, Voit has dealt with injuries, missing a significant amount of time during the 2021 season.
With general manager Brian Cashman and ownership looking to fill the shortstop position with a stopgap until their young prospects are ready to make the jump, they have a bit of money to spend elsewhere, and first base seems like a logical allocation.
However, they will have plenty of competition bringing in talent once free agency opens back up after the lockout.
Three first base options for the Yankees:
The expensive one: Freddie Freeman
Right off the bat, Freddie Freeman presents a phenomenal talent for the Yankees to target in free agency 2.0. At 32 years old, Freeman is coming off a World Series victory with the Atlanta Braves, hitting .300 with 31 homers and 120 runs during the regular season. His 34.4 offensive WAR was his highest mark since 2016, and adding a lefty bat to the Yankees’ hitting order would be tremendous. Given the short right porch in Yankee Stadium, Freeman could hit 40+ homers next season if acquired.
Freeman is looking for a deal in the six-year, $150+ million range, which is a significant number for the Bombers to invest at first base. Nonetheless, they’ve had inconsistencies at the position in recent years, so locking it down for the long term might be a good move.
The familiar one: Anthony Rizzo
Anthony Rizzo replicated his statistics with the New York Yankees after being traded at the deadline from the Chicago Cubs. He batted .249 with eight homers and 21 RBIs over 49 games. Having won four gold gloves in his career, Rizzo is a quality player who can be depended on as an everyday first baseman.
Rizzo is reportedly being targeted by his former team in free agency, so the Yankees will have competition for him as well. Rizzo is a tier below Freeman as a batter, but he offers quality defense and reliability, having played over 140 games in every full season since 2013.
The blockbuster one: Matt Olson
If the Yankees want to take a shot at Matt Olson, they’re going to have to give up young prospects to get it done. With Cashman unwilling to part ways with Anthony Volpe or Oswald Peraza, Olson seems like a long shot. Despite the Texas Rangers going heavily into free agency before the lockout, they still have their eyes on more talent, notably Olson.
The Dallas Morning News’ Evan Grant reports, “The Rangers likely won’t be players for free agent Freddie Freeman, but they will absolutely call to check on Oakland’s willingness to trade Matt Olson.”
This past season, Olson hits .271 with 39 homers and 111 RBIs. It was by far his best year as a professional, and considering he will be a free agent in 2024, the Yankees still have several years of service at a low cost. While his price tag is attractive, the Yankees have never really cared about money, and Cashman’s desire to develop young talent seems more valuable than Olson’s cost control for the next three years.