The New York Yankees strategizing around their youth movement only opens up financial resources in the future. Committing to Anthony Volpe now and allowing Oswaldo Cabrera to take over a starting job should allow them to be aggressive in free agency in the future, despite retaining Aaron Judge on a nine-year, $360 million contract extension.
General manager Brian Cashman has tied up a ton of funds to elite players, but committing to their youth in the future should allow them to continue doing just that, spending big on stars.
In 2024, the Yankees will be paying $40 million to Aaron Judge, $36 million to Gerrit Cole, $32 million to Giancarlo Stanton, and nearly $28 million to Carlos Rodon, who hasn’t even pitched an inning after suffering a forearm strain during spring training.
The Yankees have a ton of high-priced free agents:
The Yankees’ salary cap is undoubtedly filled with high-priced free agents, but having a cheap shortstop, left fielder and the expectation that Jasson Dominguez will take over a starting position someday, they have plenty of room to work with if they want to go down the Shohei Ohtani free agency path. They will likely have to fend off mega-billionaire Steve Cohen of the Mets to land him though.
Nestor wants Shohei in pinstripes:
In fact, star pitcher Nestor Cortés advocates for that strategy, indicating he would love to see Ohtani donning the pinstripes, but understands it will be an expensive play.
“That would be great for us if we were able to land him,” Cortes said, per Greg Joyce of the New York Post. “But he’s going to be really expensive, so we’ll see how that turns out.”
Ohtani, one of the best players in the game’s history, will fetch $50+ million per season, taking up around 24–25% of the team’s total payroll. However, his ability to pitch and hit at elite levels provides value that can’t be displayed through a number.
To start the 2023 season, Ohtani is hitting .298 with a .385 OBP, including three homers and nine RBIs. Ohtani hosts a 0.86 ERA on the mound with 11.57 strikeouts per nine and a 90.9% left-on-base rate.
If the Yankees want to make a legitimate splash, Ohtani is the way to go, especially at 28 years old and with years left in his prime.
“See what (Aaron) Judge gets and then you gotta see what Toronto Blue Jays pitcher (Kevin) Gausman or somebody else gets,” Cortes said. “(Ohtani is) a top-five pitcher and he’s a top-five hitter. Pretty crazy.”
The Yankees have plenty of money to make it happen, but they would have to push beyond the final luxury tax threshold, at least for the time being, until one of their big contracts expires. They have a projected total payroll of $189 million next year and will have to settle a number of arbitration cases that will push the number up significantly.
The team is currently paying $279 million in active total payroll, so they have plenty of room to work with, especially if they offload some big contracts. They could move $9.5 million from Aaron Hicks and trade a few players expected to make a sizable amount in arbitration for younger, cheaper talent.
Considering the current state of the Yankees’ farm system and how much quality they have climbing the ranks, they can theoretically afford Ohtani. Still, it would put a lot of pressure on their youngsters to perform. However, a batting order with Judge and Ohtani would be historic, and there may not be many opposing teams that can compete with at that level of talent.