Two bloated contracts might hold up the New York Yankees‘ aggressiveness in free agency on the roster that general manager Brian Cashman is looking to move. While Cashman doesn’t seem keen on spending before figuring out Aaron Judge’s contract extension, he may have no choice as the market expects to develop quickly over the next few days.
With star pitcher Jacob deGrom signing a five-year, $185 million deal with the Texas Rangers, the starting pitching market will begin to heat up.
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If the Yankees are serious about landing either Justin Verlander or Carlos Rodon, they can’t wait until Judge’s deal is done, which could take a few more days than expected if they get caught up on years.
With that being said, opening up a bit of financial flexibility is essential, which is where Josh Donaldson and Aaron Hicks come into play.
…teams trying to trade players with inflated contracts to create more payroll flexibility for their free-agent pursuits.
The Yankees must move Donaldson and Hicks:
Donaldson is owed $21 million for the 2023 season, and Hicks will earn $10.5 million. It is unlikely the Yankees recoup that entire amount, rather trading the two players and paying for a portion of their salaries moving forward. Donaldson was disappointing in 2022, despite recording elite-level defense. He hit .222 with a 30.8% on-base rate, 15 homers, and 62 RBIs.
He posted a 1.6 WAR this past season, the worst number in his career, with a minimum of 100 games. It seems as if age has finally caught up with him, despite Cashman presenting confidence that he can return to his old form moving forward.
The 36-year-old infielder also has a buyout option that is vested in 2024, meaning the Yankees will have to pay them $6 million not to play for them. Looking over at Hicks, he has about $30 million left over three years, but trying to recoup a bit of salary space would be a good move since his value has diminished.
Even if the Yankees manage to retain $10–15M between both of them this year, that will pay for a new left fielder, whether that be Andrew Benintendi or Masataka Yoshida.