The New York Yankees need to have a solid backup plan in case superstar slugger Aaron Judge walks in free agency. Every off-season, general manager Brian Cashman connects with the top options on the market, gauging their price point and considering the value of each individual free agent.
However, this off-season is much different than previous ones, considering the Yankees could lose their best player and may need to supplement that with several moves. There’s no replacing Aaron Judge, but they can sign players to help soften the blow and strengthen positions that have been traditionally weak.
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The Yankees have connected with 10 top-tier free agents this off-season:
1.) Carlos Correa
Carlos Correa is arguably the best shortstop on the free agent market at 28 years old. For the Minnesota Twins in 2022, he hit .291 with a 36.6% on-base rate, 22 homers, and 64 RBIs. He’s in line to earn a monster contract upward of $35+ million per season. The question is, will Correa land a long-term deal or another short-term contract for high money? I don’t expect the Yankees to be heavily invested in Correa, especially with Oswald Peraza rising through the ranks and Anthony Volpe expected to be in the mix in 2023.
2.) Xander Bogaerts
The Bombers have done their due diligence on Xander Bogaerts from the Red Sox, a 30-year-old shortstop with fantastic offensive qualities. This past season for Boston, Bogaerts hit .307 with a 37.7% on-base rate, including 15 homers and 73 RBIs over 150 games.
Bogaerts is projected to land a deal around six years, $186 million, presenting a good alternative if the Yankees miss out on Judge.
3.) Trea Turner
Trea Turner would be the dream acquisition for the Yanks, but he is in line to land a deal north of $250 million over eight years.
Turner is 29 years old, hitting .298 with a 34.3% on-base rate, including 21 homers and 100 RBIs this past season. However, Turner is an elite base runner, stealing 27 bases this past campaign over 160 games.
Traditionally, Turner isn’t the best postseason player, but he features solid defense and elite athleticism, which would help the Yankees tremendously moving forward. He might be out of their price range, though, as it seems Cashman doesn’t feel inclined to over-invest at the shortstop position based on his previous moves.
4.) Justin Verlander
The Yankees have a legitimate interest in Cy Young-winning starter, Justin Verlander. Verlander is looking for a deal worth over $40 million on a yearly basis, meaning the probability of him landing is low. However, Cashman was interested in Verlander last off-season, and after recording a 1.75 ERA over 175 innings, that interest likely didn’t dissipate.
5.) Carlos Rodon
The Yankees have serious interest in Carlos Rodon, a 29-year-old pitcher coming off a great 2022 season. With the San Francisco Giants, Rodon earned a 2.88 ERA and 2.91 xFIP over 170 innings. Rodon is 10 years younger than Verlander, making him a bit more efficient over the long term.
Some have Rodon pegged at earning around $31–32 million per season, but the years are the most interesting part. Some have him signing a four-year deal or six-year deal, meaning the Yankees could lock down their rotation for the foreseeable future and not have to worry about it for quite a long time.
6.) Jacob deGrom
The Yankees have checked in on star pitcher Jacob deGrom, requesting a medical to determine his health. deGrom hasn’t pitched over 100 innings since 2019, but when he is healthy, he is arguably the best pitcher in the game.
deGrom is looking for a big payday despite the injury issues, but the Yankees might be able to get him on a similar deal to Verlander last year, proving that he can maintain his health and presenting a player option in which he can determine his future in 2024.
At 34 years old, deGrom is in his prime still, but the injuries are a concern that must be considered in any potential deals.
7.) Andrew Benintendi
The Yankees may look to bring back Andrew Benintendi at around $15 million per season. At 28 years old, Benintendi is coming off a fantastic season, hitting .304 with a 37.3% on-base rate, including five homers and 51 RBIs.
As an elite contact hitter, Benintendi would be a fantastic full-season edition at the top of the batting order. Having Benintendi and DJ LeMahieu getting on base frequently, the Yankees can truly maximize the value of Aaron Judge, given they manage to retain his services.
8.) Kodai Senga
The Yankees have connected with Japanese star pitcher Kodai Senga, who is looking to make a transition to Major League Baseball. Senga hosted a 1.94 ERA this past season, even touching 101.9 mph on his fastball. There’s always a bit of fear when paying foreign players big money, but the upside is tremendous. At 29 years old, Senga is in the middle of his prime, presenting a great opportunity to maximize his quality.
9.) Masataka Yoshida
If the Yankees don’t want to go in the direction of Andrew Benintendi, Masataka Yoshida is a fantastic option. The 29-year-old Japanese player hit .335 with a 44.7% on-base rate, including 21 homers and 80 RBIs for the Orix Buffaloes this past season.
Yoshida isn’t the best defensive player, but he has impeccable offensive qualities, even hosting a higher walk rate than strikeout rate, which is simply unheard of.
10.) Michael Conforto
A buy-low outfield option for the Yankees is Michael Conforto, who featured with the Mets this past season. Conforto played in 125 games, posting a .232 average with a 34.4% on-base rate, including 14 homers and 55 RBIs.
By most accounts, this was a down year for Conforto, who has an on-base rate of .356 across seven seasons.