Yankees avoid blockbuster deal at first base, settle for familiar face

anthony rizzo, yankees

Despite all the rumors and reports indicating the New York Yankees were involved in the Freddie Freeman sweepstakes, they ended up going with a familiar face, disappointing the fans once again.

Freeman has his eyes set on a West Coast team, despite the emergence of the Boston Red Sox as a potential landing spot for the star first baseman. Unfortunately, it wasn’t in the cards for the Yankees, who couldn’t afford to wait any longer as their backup plan was quickly slipping away.

The Yankees even went as far as to offer Freeman a contract, but he turned it down due to a lack of interest. In the meantime, the Yankees re-signed Anthony Rizzo on a two-year, $32 million deal.

Rizzo played well last season wearing pinstripes, posting a .249 average with eight homers and 21 RBIs. While he doesn’t match Freeman’s .300 average and 31 homers, he is still a competent player that can hold down first base for the next few seasons.

With the Chicago Cubs showing their interest in a potential reunion with Rizzo, the Yankees didn’t have much time to make a decision, and at this point, they’ve missed out on nearly every big prospect this off-season, a disappointing reality for a team that has been more aggressive in the past.

Acquiring Freeman was their last opportunity to land one of the big fish on the market, and while Rizzo offers sufficient play at 32 years old, the Yankees as we know them are dead.

Once a team aggressive in their pursuit and willing to spend big money on talent has now found themselves shopping in the clearance section, trying to solve significant issues holding them back from postseason play.

Rizzo’s contract is far more team family, averaging $16 million per season compared to the likely $25+ million Freeman wants in free agency. There’s still time left for the Yankees to make moves, but the free-agent market is thin, and they could use another starting pitcher to go with Gerrit Cole at the top of the rotation. Brian Cashman has signed up to pay Rizzo and Josh Donaldson a combined $41 million — an absurd amount.

Yankees’ arch-rivals trying to steal top free agent first baseman, can Cashman save the day?

freddie freeman, yankees

With the Atlanta Braves securing Matt Olson from the Oakland Athletics in a blockbuster trade, the New York Yankees are left picking up the pieces and trying to figure out a new strategy. Ever since the lockout came to an end, general manager Brian Cashman has been connected to Freddie Freeman, who won the World Series in Atlanta last season.

Freeman is a phenomenal player, hitting .300 with 31 homers and 83 RBIs in 2021. He recorded a 15.4% strikeout rate and a 12.2% walk rate.

The issue is, the Yankees will have to unload a deal worth upward of $150 million for his services, and after acquiring Josh Donaldson and his massive contract, Cashman may be unwilling to spend the additional money.

According to Jon Heyman of the MLB Network, the Yankees are still involved in the Freeman sweepstakes, but there’s a good chance he lands on the West Coast, closer to home.

Nonetheless, the Yankees will have a bit more competition for his services, as the Boston Red Sox have now joined the race, eyeing an upgrade at first base.

In addition to the Red Sox, the Toronto Blue Jays, Tampa Bay Rays, and Los Angeles Dodgers are all involved, but we’ve seen Cashman pull rabbits out of the hat in the past with last-second lucrative deals.

Considering the team’s most recent trade with the Minnesota Twins, coming out of thin air, we shouldn’t rule out the potential for the Yankees to make a big offer to Freeman and lute him in using their available money.

Adding a big lefty bat to the hitting order would be a tremendous grab for the Bombers, especially since Freeman could hit 40+ homers in Yankee Stadium with a short right porch. Featuring a 45.7% hard-hit rate last season and 226 hard-hit balls, it is clear he offers tremendous upside and offensive qualities.

Since the Yankees took a more conservative offensive approach at shortstop with Isiah Kiner-Falefa, adding a big bat like Freeman feels realistic.

New York Yankees still targeting left-handed first basemen after big trade

yankees, matt olson

The Yankees made their first big move of the offseason tonight with a bit of a perplexing deal. New York acquired Josh Donaldson, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, and Ben Rortvedt for Gary Sanchez and Gio Urshela.

It was a deal that took many by surprise especially the acquisition of Josh Donaldson. Of course, immediately the wheels started turning in that this would likely be the first move of many from the Yankees.

Shortly after this deal was officially announced, Ken Rosenthal tweeted out that New York was still in the market for a left-handed first baseman. They still believe they are in the hunt for Freddie Freeman and they are still engaged with Oakland on Matt Olson.

Now, Jon Heyman tweeted out that Anthony Rizzo is a more likely option at this point. Rizzo would be the cheapest option on the free agent market and he wouldn’t cost the Yankees and capital in terms of prospects.

What will the Yankees do next?

I think the next big move you’re going to see from the Yankees is a Luke Voit trade. Whether Voit is in the package that ends up going to Oakland for Olson or not, I think that Voit’s days in New York are numbered.

From the very beginning, I never thought the Yanks were a viable option for Freddie Freeman. Yes, they could change course and offer him more money than God to bring him to New York, but I don’t see them doing that.

Freeman is likely going to return to Atlanta or sign with the Dodgers. If the Yankees had their preference, it would be to trade for Matt Olson. However, the prospect haul is going to be a steep price for Brian Cashman to pay and we know that Cashman loves his prospects.

Rizzo won’t cost a lot of money and he won’t cost prospects. My gut says that they end up reuniting with Rizzo while trading Voit for some pitching. Whether it’s a package for a reliever or starter, I think Voit goes for pitching. Stay tuned because the Yankees seem very active right now.

Yankees closing in on blockbuster deal to land star first baseman once free agency opens

freddie freeman, yankees

The Players Union and MLB owners came to a conclusion on Thursday afternoon to finally end the lock out. What does that mean for baseball? The return of free agency is imminent, and the New York Yankees are expected to be major players once negotiations heat up.

Prior to the lockout, the Yankees had requested medicals for Carlos Correa, Carlos Rodon, and Yusei Kikuchi.

However, they are targeting one massive acquisition, Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman. The Yankees and Freeman have been connected several times during the lockout, despite no ongoing negotiations between the two sides.

There is still potential that Freeman sticks with the Braves, having just won the World Series last season, but the Yankees are preparing a sizable offer that would lock him into a multi-year contract. Clearly, the team isn’t looking to waste any time with the regular season expected to start in mid-April.

With only Luke Voit on the roster and Anthony Rizzo hitting the open market, there’s a good chance the Yankees acquire Freeman and make him their starting first baseman, opening day.

“He’s definitely still on the table,” a source told Brendan Kuty of NJ.com.

Freeman is coming off of season where he hit. 300 with 31 homers and 83 RBIs. His 15.4% strikeout rate would be fantastic for a team that hovers over the 20% mark. Given Freeman is a lefty batter, he could hit 40+ homers at Yankee Stadium, which features a short right porch.

While Freddie isn’t known for his elite defensive qualities, his offensive capabilities make up for any deficiencies tenfold. The luxury tax threshold now sits at $230 million, so the Bombers have plenty of money to spend. The team’s 2021 payroll was $209 million.

Aside from Freeman, expect general manager Brian Cashman to be active in the starting pitching market as well, especially after losing Corey Kluber in free agency earlier this off-season to the Tampa Bay Rays.

What will the New York Yankees do first once the hot stove is live?

brian cashman, yankees

The news that Yankees fans have been waiting to hear for nearly 100 days dropped today. MLB and the MLBPA agreed to a new CBA that will end the lockout and the hot stove will officially go live later this evening once the deal is ratified.

There needed to be 20 votes out of 38 from player reps and the executive committee for the deal to go through. All eight executive members voted no and four teams dissented including the New York Yankees. However, 26 team reps voted yes and baseball is officially back.

I don’t even think you could classify what’s about to happen as the hot stove. This is going to be like the surface of the sun. MLB Spring Training is set to begin in just a few days and there are over 300 free agents that are still searching for a home including some notable Yankees targets.

Will the Yankees make a splash?

For the Yankees, the needs of the team haven’t changed since the beginning of the offseason. The lack of action from the bombers before the lockout means they still have their full plate of agenda items to take care of in a very short amount of time.

Obvious priority is the shortstop position. It’s been clear for a while now that the Yanks are not going to have Gleyber Torres manning shortstop in 2022. The Yankees engaged in conversations with Carlos Correa, Trevor Story, and Andelton Simmons before the lockout.

All of those players are still available to New York. Now, Simmons is the least sexy move the Yanks could make, but it might be a deal that comes together considering the talent in the farm system at SS. It will also depend on what happens with a few other positions including first base.

The Yankees are said to have serious interest in both Freddie Freeman and Matt Olson. Both would cost a lot in very different ways. I think Olson is more likely between those two, but I also wouldn’t rule out the Yanks reuniting with Anthony Rizzo after his time in the Bronx.

To me, Luke Voit is still a goner. I just can’t see New York bringing him back after last year which means a trade is likely going to go down soon with him. Does he bring back pitching or is he part of a deal that brings in Olson? Time will tell.

Pitching is always a need, but I think the Yankees will focus on suring up the infield right away. There’s no time to waste so I expect some deals to come together quickly. Don’t roll your eyes but a Brett Gardner extension might be one of the first dominos. Buckle up Yankees fans, it’s about to get hot.

Report: Yankees ‘very interested’ in Freddie Freeman, but have big competition from AL East rival

freddie freeman, yankees

This off-season, the New York Yankees have to make a big decision at first base, especially with Anthony Rizzo hitting free agency after just acquiring him at the trade deadline from the Chicago Cubs. Reports did indicate that Rizzo could re-sign with Chicago, leaving the Yankees in a bind.

General manager Brian Cashman has refrained from spending big money at first base in recent years, but the team was reportedly interested in Atlanta Braves star 1B Freddie Freeman before the lockout commenced.

However, the Yankees were the only team intrigued by his services, considering he recently won a World Series and posted incredible numbers in Atlanta.

According to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the Yankees are very interesting Freeman, but they will have to battle the Rays for him:

Sources: The low-revenue Tampa Bay Rays made superstar Freddie Freeman an offer before the lockout. Yankees very interested. Jays, Dodgers, others could fit. It’s a surprise Braves didn’t lock him up before lockout; they remain in mix.
The small-market Rays haven’t been big spenders in free agency, but with a team built through development and youth progress, they feel as though this is their time to shine and make a run at the World Series. Spending a bit of money to improve several positions could go a long way, having already signed starting pitcher Corey Kluber.
Freeman finished the 2021 season hitting .300 with 31 homers and 83 RBIs. He also tallied a 15.4% strikeout rate and 12.2% walk rate. Given his impeccable patience and slugging power, the Yankees would love to have him within their ranks, reducing their strikeout rate just a smidge.
However, Freeman is going to land a massive contract worth six years, $150+ million. Tampa Bay may not be able to offer him the money he seeks, but the Yankees have a history of overspending, and he may be able to swindle them for a monster contract, even though Aaron Judge’s big deal is impending.

Yankees: How much is Freddie Freeman worth in free agency?

freddie freeman, yankees

The New York Yankees have first baseman Luke Voit on the roster, but don’t appear to be sold on his long-term health and defensive abilities. That’s why they have been linked to Atlanta Braves’ slugger Freddie Freeman ever since the offseason started.

Freeman, of course, remains a highly productive run producer at 32. He hit .300/.393/.503 with 31 home runs, 120 runs, 83 RBI, a 135 wRC+, and 4.5 Wins Above Replacement (WAR). His left-handed bat would fit in like a glove in the Yankees’ lineup, that’s for sure. But how much is he worth?

USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (link to NJ Advance Media article here) gave us an idea:

“The most intriguing free agent watch will be Atlanta first baseman Freddie Freeman when the lockout ends. He rejected a five-year, $135 million deal during the season, is seeking a six-year, $180 million deal, and now we’ll soon see if Atlanta ups its offer or lets him walk away,” he said.

Will the Yankees pay the price?

Before free agency started, ESPN had projected Freeman to get around six years and $156 million, while The Athletic’s Jim Bowden forecasted a six-year, $187 million pact.

FanGraphs’ estimated Freeman’s value in the open market at $35.9 million per season, according to his on-field production, so his demands are not unreasonable.

The Braves don’t want to go six years, as they apparently fear that would be too long of a commitment. Will the Yankees be willing to go that long, considering they badly need a shortstop and they also need to extend Aaron Judge?

Of course, the Yankees could always keep Voit, who is a very talented hitter, or re-sign Anthony Rizzo, who remains a solid defender but has a declining bat. The trade market also presents a very intriguing alternative for New York: trading for Matt Olson (39 homers in 2021), and they could also include some much-needed pitching.

The lockout is still going on, however, so it may not be a while until we see what the Yankees are going to do about their first base situation.

New York Mets “checked in” on NL top slugger, who is also a Yankees’ target

freddie freeman, yankees

The New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers will be closely monitoring Freddie Freeman’s situation after the lockout, as there is a “growing belief”, according to ESPN insider Buster Olney, that the slugger won’t be re-signing with the Atlanta Braves. Don’t count the New York Mets out of the sweepstakes yet, however.

The Mets’ lineup is pretty much set after the Starling Marte, Eduardo Escobar, and Mark Canha acquisitions, plus the pending return of suspended infielder Robinson Cano. One would think the team should direct their efforts to bringing at least two additional starters and an extra reliever.

However, the Steven Cohen Mets always want to go for more. According to Olney (link to MetsMerized Online article here), they checked in on Freeman before the lockout.

In the hypothetical case Freeman signs for the Mets, Pete Alonso would be the designated hitter, and the lineup would be one of the best in baseball, if not the best. Alonso, Freeman, Marte, Canha, Escobar, Francisco Lindor, Brandon Nimmo, Cano, and Jeff McNeil are a pretty good unit, although Cano’s spot on the roster is still a question mark.

The Mets have competition for Freeman

According to Olney, the Toronto Blue Jays are a team to watch as well in the Freeman race. They have a gap in the infield after failing to re-sign Marcus Semien, but Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is firmly entrenched as the starting first baseman. He would DH if Freeman goes to Canada.

Freeman, the NL MVP in 2020 and one of the most important contributors in the Braves’ World Series run last year, hit .300/.393/.503 with 31 home runs, 83 RBIs, and a 4.7 rWAR in 159 games with Atlanta.

The problem, for the Mets, is that if they sign Freeman, they would have to surrender the 14th overall pick because the slugging first baseman declined the qualifying offer from the Braves. That is if the current compensation system stands after the collective bargaining agreement is negotiated.

New York Yankees: Where will DJ LeMahieu play in the 2022 season?

New York Yankees, DJ LeMahieu

The New York Yankees and the other 29 major league baseball clubs are still waiting for a resolution to the expired Collective Bargaining Agreement, with the sides no closer to an agreement on major issues. With spring training already delayed, the proposed start of the regular season is now in jeopardy. MLB has said that if the season’s start is delayed, games will be lost and not made up. They have given Monday as a deadline to sign a new agreement, or games will start to be canceled.

While all the Yankee news has centered on getting a new shortstop, they also need a first baseman and some pitching help. The Yankees already have a team to field, but not a competition team that can take them to the postseason. They can leave Luke Voit at first base, along with his injury history. They have named their second baseman in Gleyber Torres. They can move Gio Urshela to short and insert DJ LeMahieu to fill in at the hot corner. But this isn’t the premier infield the Yankees want to start with. They will likely find a new shortstop and trade for Matt Olsen or make a play for the Braves Freddie Freeman.

With a change from the 2021 infield, it will likely put DJ LeMahieu with no permanent place to play, which is a waste of one of the best defensive players in the game. DJ is a three-time Gold Glover and a Silver Slugger as recently as 2020. It would be a shame to lose his talents, being used as a utility player that will never know where he will play for any given game.

DJ suffered a decline in his plate production since his best in baseball’s best hitter season in 2020. Many fans believe this could have been caused by not having a permanent place to play. Now he may face another season where he will be asked to play a position not familiar to him. Let’s take a look at DJ’s journey.

The New York Yankees 32-year-old David John  LeMahieu is in his fourth year with the Yankees. He quickly became a favorite player among all Yankee fans when he joined the Yankees. The Cubs selected LeMahieu in the second round of the 2009 MLB draft, and he made his MLB debut for the Cubs in 2011 before being traded to the Rockies before the 2012 season. LeMahieu won a Gold Glove Award in 2014, 2017, and 2018 and was named an MLB All-Star in 2015 and 2017, and won the National League batting title in 2016. After becoming a free agent, he signed with the Yankees before the 2019 season.

DJ was born in California, but his family moved to Michigan, where he attended high school. When in high school, he played as a shortstop and pitcher for the school’s baseball team. In his senior year, as a leadoff hitter, he batted .574 with eight home runs, 16 doubles, seven triples, 70 runs scored, 32 runs batted in (RBIs), and 39 stolen bases.

Although he was selected in the draft by the Detroit Tigers, he decided to attend Lousiana State University instead. He was a shortstop for the baseball team and excelled with a .350 batting average. He later transitioned from shortstop to second base. LeMahieu was selected to the 2009 College World Series All-Tournament team. He hit .444 in the series leading all players in the series with 12 hits.

After being selected by the Cubs in the 2009 draft, his Cubs career didn’t last as the Cubs traded LeMahieu to the Colorado Rockies in 2011. In May of the following year, he was called up to replace an injured player. In August, he recorded his career-best four-hit game against the Brewers for a 9-6 Rockies win. Later in August, LeMahieu wrote his name into the record books, as he recorded 12 assists in a 9-inning victory against the Los Angeles Dodgers on the 28th. He was a 2015 All-Star, and in 2016, LeMahieu won the National League batting

title. His .348 season average led all of Major League Baseball. He was a 2017 All-Star, and in 2018 he was named the best defensive player in all of the majors.

DJ becomes a New York Yankee

DJ always wanted to play for the New York Yankees. His childhood idol was Derek Jeter. He, in an interview, said that he wanted to be like Jeter and modeled his on the field and off the field life after him. On January 14th of last year, DJ signed a $24 million two-year contract with our Yankees. He couldn’t have the number 2, so he selected #26. During his short time with the Yankees, he has played shortstop and third base but primarily second base, where he has excelled. The Yankee organization refers to him as the super-utility player. He quickly became a fan favorite for his frequent and timely hitting and good play at second base. For his hitting, he was coined “Tthe Machine.”

LeMahieu hit a bump in the road when he sprained his thumb swinging at a ball. At first, the Yankees thought he would be day-to-day, but the soreness wasn’t relieved, and he went on the 10 DL on August 6th. He returned from the injured list on Saturday, August 29th. Although in his first game back, he was not involved in the Yankees’ win, he did hit a triple in the game. Since then, he has had a hit in every game, including two last night. For the season, DJ is leading the team with a .398 batting average and an impressive OPS of .965. It was assumed that DJ would be a lock on being the Yankee’s MVP again in 2020, however with Luke Voit tied for the most home runs in baseball, he lost out on that award.

LeMahieu will become a free agent at the end of 2020 and re-signed with the Yankees on a new six-year contract. Now DJ finds himself fighting for a permanent position again this season.

There is a “growing belief” Yankees’ target won’t return to Atlanta

freddie freeman, yankees

The futures of Freddie Freeman and Matt Olson appear to be tied to each other’s. They are the best available first baseman in the market once the lockout ends: one, Freeman, is a free agent, while Olson is a prime trade piece that the Oakland Athletics will likely flip during this offseason. The New York Yankees should be considering both.

First base is not as pressing of a need as shortstop for the Yankees: they have Luke Voit to play the cold corner, while shortstop is a huge question mark. But they would like a better defender who is also a better bet to stay healthy than Voit.

Some encouraging news are coming from Atlanta in the last few hours. According to ESPN insider Buster Olney, there is a “growing belief” that Freeman won’t be returning there. After leading them to the World Series title (for the first time since 1995) and winning the NL MVP award in 2020, the Braves don’t seem eager to pay the 32-year-old Freeman what he’s seeking.

Will the Yankees pay Freeman what he wants?

Freeman reportedly wants something in the neighborhood of six years and $180 million. A lot of money, sure, and a sizable commitment in years, but he has earned every penny: last year, he slashed .300/.393/.503 with 31 home runs, 120 runs, 83 RBI, a 135 wRC+, and 4.5 Wins Above Replacement (WAR).

The Yankees should have Freeman as a potential target, even if they should prioritize shortstop and some more pitching help. Freeman would be perfect for their lineup as a proven left-handed bat with power and patience.

In case they swing and miss with Freeman, Olson presents a nice alternative. He has power (39 homers in 2021) and is a better defender than Freeman at this point, plus he would be cheaper and with a shorter commitment than the Braves’ legend. He would require the Yankees giving up some prospects, though.

Which first baseman would you prefer, all things considered, Freeman or Olson?