The New York Yankees have an opportunity to save a tremendous amount of salary space this upcoming off-season by letting several impending free agents walk.
Of course, the focus is on Luis Severino, Frankie Montas, and a likely release of Domingo German. They will save over $20 million by moving on from those three players, but they’re also set to gain $6 million back from the departure of Isiah Kiner-Falefa, one of their veteran utility pieces.
Despite massive criticism in the direction of IKF over the past two seasons, he stood his ground and found ways to contribute, which drew some positive reactions from the fan base. The 28-year-old loved playing in the Bronx and wanted to do everything he could to help the team win games, but far more important variables were working against his efforts.
This past season, IKF played in 115 games, hitting .242 with a .306 OBP, including six homers, 37 RBIs, 14 stolen bases, and an 82 wRC+. He unfortunately underwhelmed offensively, but he’s never been an above-average hitter, so this was an expected result.
Defensively, the Yankees moved him all over, featuring 556.1 innings in the outfield and 240.1 innings at third base when they needed a supplement for Josh Donaldson. IKF logged a .981 fielding percentage in the outfield with -4 defensive runs saved and -2 outs above average. Considering he had never played a position before, he looked competent at times, which certainly covered up some massive losses in the outfield.
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At third base, he collected three defensive runs saved and three outs above average, helping smooth over any deficiencies and injuries. Looking ahead, the Yankees will likely move on, save the money, and turn his reps over to Oswaldo Cabrera.
Cabrera had his fair share of struggles in 2023, coming off an exciting 2022 campaign. The 24-year-old is capable of playing most infield spots and every outfield position. He hit only .211 with a .275 OBP this year, including five homers and 29 RBIs with a 60 wRC+. The hope is that he can continue rounding out his offensive identity and become a competent bat in the lineup when called upon.
The Yankees Have Money to Spend
The Yankees have a projected total payroll of $249.8 million. This past season, they had an active payroll of $280.1 million, giving them a bit of flexibility. That is also assuming they sign all of their arbitration contracts, which is unlikely.
German himself has an estimated $7.3 million contract, and Lou Trivino sits at $4.1 million. The Yankees should have around $50 million to spend when all is said and done, so they can easily afford to make a strong push at Yoshinobu Yamamoto and acquire a player like Juan Soto. Of course, that would be an extremely optimistic free agency haul, but it certainly would put the Yankees right back in World Series contention.