The New York Yankees have multiple positions they need to solve this off-season after the lockout comes to an end. One of those spots is first base, where they currently have Luke Voit as the primary option with Anthony Rizzo hitting free agency.
It is possible that management looks to DJ LeMahieu to start at first base, but there was interest earlier this off-season in Atlanta Braves star Freddie Freeman. However, the consensus was that Freeman would stick with Atlanta after winning the World Series this past year.
Reports have indicated that Atlanta has been doing their due diligence on other first base options, notably Matt Olson in a prospective deal with the Oakland Athletics. The Yankees were also connected to Oakland, but with competition, they could turn their sights to Freeman, who’s looking for a six-year, $180 million deal.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic stated that Freddie Freeman could be on his way out of Atlanta:
“Our longstanding assumption — ah, they’ll just work it out — no longer applies. The Braves and Freeman didn’t work it out last spring, last summer or in November with the lockout looming. They still might work it out, considering that an agreement remains the most sensible outcome. But rest assured, both sides are weighing their options. It would not be a surprise for either, once business resumes, to act quickly.”
If freeman hits the market, the Yankees are one of the only teams that have the cash available to acquire him. He’s coming off a season where he hit .300 with 31 homers and 83 RBIs, featuring a 15.4% strikeout rate. Freeman is one of the best batters in baseball, and with a lefty swing, he could hit 40+ homers in Yankee stadium.
Freeman isn’t just any ordinary slugger, he also walks 12.2% of the time and recorded a 45.7% hard-hit rate this past year, the second-highest of his career after logging a 54.2% rate in 2020.
Defensively, Freeman has been a bit inconsistent throughout his career, but his offensive prowess makes up for it tenfold. He recorded a .998 fielding success rate with three errors this past season. Freeman has won one Gold Glove back in 2018.
The question is, with the Yankees be willing to spend $30 million per season on a first baseman, especially with needs at shortstop and starting pitching?
It seems like general manager Brian Cashman is steering toward a stopgap solution at shortstop, so he could go with a cheaper, defensive option and swing heavy at first base. There’s also a world where Gio Urshela moves to shortstop and LeMahieu locks down the hot corner, but that might be a bit optimistic given their lack of experience at both spots.