Yankees could try to offload $35 million to spend next off-season

yankees, anthony rizzo
Jul 29, 2022; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees first baseman Anthony Rizzo (48) walks off the field after a rain delay is called after the bottom of the seventh inning against the Kansas City Royals at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

As the New York Yankees grapple with their current season performance, their focus may need to shift towards retooling and preparing for the 2024 season. Despite Aaron Judge’s triumphant return on Friday night, the Bombers still found themselves unable to score against one of the baseball’s least impressive starting pitchers.

Confronting the Inevitable: A Need for Change

Evidently, the Yankees are struggling against superior teams and lack the run production necessary to secure victories. Consequently, General Manager Brian Cashman and the front office need to consider selling at the trade deadline and freeing up salary for the upcoming off-season.

Having more money to invest in free agency and the capacity to change the narrative will provide the Yankees with a better chance of reshaping their future. This appears more promising than sticking with aging contracts that continue to deteriorate over time.

Potential Salary Offloads: The $35 Million Yankees Game Plan

The Yankees could potentially shed $35 million in salaries. While Giancarlo Stanton’s hefty contract could be a prime candidate, his no-trade clause and underwhelming performance make this unlikely. Instead, the focus shifts to players like Anthony Rizzo and DJ LeMahieu.

Anthony Rizzo: A Declining Asset?

Anthony Rizzo, whose performance has plummeted over the past few months, could be a prime candidate for a move, potentially clearing $20 million off the books for the 2024 season.

At 33 years old, Rizzo is hitting .246 with a .330 OBP, along with 12 homers and 41 RBIs. His 22.3% strikeout rate is his highest since 2011, and his 8.4% walk rate is his lowest since 2012. His 102 wRC+ is one of the worst in his career, suggesting Rizzo is either suffering from a prolonged cold streak or being hampered by physical limitations.

However, Rizzo still has one more year and $20 million left on his deal, and the Yankees could potentially convince another team that he still has some firepower left. Despite his poor form in July, his strong performance in May showcased his potential. His struggles could be attributed to dwindling confidence or a lingering injury.

Clearing some salary might provide the Yankees with much-needed flexibility for player signings next year. Rizzo’s short-term contract might be an attractive prospect for a team in need of a first baseman and a left-handed bat known for good clubhouse conduct.

DJ LeMahieu: A Tricky Trade

Trading DJ LeMahieu’s contract could be more complicated. The Yankees might want to consider acquiring a young, controllable player for the future, using LeMahieu as part of the deal. Cashman may need to pair LeMahieu’s contract with a prospect, given that DJ will be 38 when the contract ends. Alternatively, the Yankees could consider covering a part of his salary.

Despite hitting .234 with a .309 OBP this season, LeMahieu still holds value. In the past month, he has improved his performance, hitting .261 with a .373 OBP. Apart from his inconsistent offense this year, he continues to be a strong defender at multiple positions.

Utilizing LeMahieu’s $15 million per season salary could allow the Yankees to secure a player like Cody Bellinger in center field for the long term. The reality is that aging contracts continue to degrade in value, and the Yankees can’t continue to rely on veterans to revive their season as age continues to take its toll.

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