In a perfect world, the New York Yankees would walk away from free agency with an elite shortstop, but they may have to settle for a tier lower, which still isn’t a bad compromise. Carlos Correa was and remains the best SS option on the market, and after Corey Seager signed with the Texas Rangers on a massive deal, Correa is likely salivating at his future contract.
However, the Yankees don’t need to tie themselves at the hip with a 10-year deal worth $300+ million, and for a good reason, they have two stud infielders climbing the ranks of their farm system. That isn’t an excuse to save money but rather a smart move to avoid a frustrated Correa down the line who may refuse a move to thrid-base.
Instead, they can allocate the years and money toward two solutions in the infield at SS and first base. Aside from Correa, the next best option is Trevor Story, who’s a solid defensive player and is plenty productive on offense. The Rockie slashed .251/.329/.471 with 24 homers and 75 RBIs this past season, a down year by most accounts. Nonetheless, he’s only one year removed from hitting .289 and two years removed from launching 35 homers, a number he could replicate in Yankee Stadium with short porches.
Story is undoubtedly an upgrade over Gleyber Torres, who struggled considerably at SS. The Colorado infielder posted a .975 fielding percentage with 10 defensive runs saved, compared to the -10 Torres posted this past year. He allowed just 14 errors over 1,175 innings, indicating efficiency and consistency.
With the money the team would save from paying Correa over 10 years, they could also look to sign star 1B Freddie Freeman to a 5-6 year deal, which would pay him out about $25-30 million per season, but on a far shorter contract. Freeman finished the 2020-21 season hitting .300 with 31 homers, 120 RBIs, and a 15.4% strikeout rate. He would be a welcomed addition to a Yankee lineup that struck out more than 23% on average.
Paying both Story and Freeman would take up a significant portion of the Yankees’ funds, if not all, but the contract would be about half the length of Correa’s, giving them more flexibility down the line for the same total cost. Brian Cashman also has plenty of resources at his expense, including prospects to add more starting pitching talent or take a page out of “Moneyball” and target players who serve a specific purpose for a fraction of the cost. The Tampa Bay Rays have been doing this for years and finding far more success than a Yankee team spending ridiculous money on sluggers.