The New York Yankees are waiting patiently for the free-agent market to develop, but that doesn’t mean they are staying quiet. The Yankees have been engaged with DJ LeMahieu on his contract extension, but they have made some minor signings over the past several days.
The most recent signing is middle relief arm Adam Warren, who last pitched for the Yankees in 2018. He’s had amicable success over his career but was injured for the 2020 season and will be making his return in 2021. His most recent season in 2019 didn’t go as planned, as he earned a 5.34 ERA with a lowly 7.85 strikeouts per nine.
With Tommy Kahnle hitting free agency after undergoing Tommy John surgery this past season, Warren can be a decent supplement. He was signed to a minor league contract but was very productive with the Yankees in 2017. He finished the season with a 2.35 ERA over 57.1 innings. His high 53.7% ground ball rate was exactly what Yankee Stadium requires.
Warren reuniting with the Yankees is perfectly timed, as he spent the 2020 season rehabilitating from Tommy John, and 14 months later, he’s prepared to make an impact. He will likely have to work his way up through the minor leagues’ upper tiers, but I imagine he will find his way in the bullpen rather quickly.
Could the New York Yankees still be intrigued by JT Realmuto?
Early reports indicated that Realmuto could cost upwards of $200 million on a long-term deal, but a more realistic contract could hover in the $100 million range over five years. In fact, his theoretical deal would be very similar to DJ LeMahieu’s.
The Yankees are seemingly committed to Gary Sanchez, but he has been degrading the past few years significantly, and if this streak continues, they will have to find a replacement at some point. Locking in the best catcher on the market for the long term would solve a pressing problem GM Brian Cashman promised to reevaluate this offseason.
The Yankees have already extended a new one year contract to Sanchez and having him under control until the 2023 off-season. Considering how cheap he will be, the Yankees can save their money and work with what they have on the roster. Expect them to roll with Kyle Higashiosaka and Sanchez, playing the hot hand.
However, if LeMahieu walks, the Yankees can reallocate that money toward a different player, and Realmuto would be a massive upgrade at catcher.
This past season, he hit .266 with 11 homers and 32 RBIs. Over the course of a full 2019 season, he hit .275 with 25 homers and 83 RBIs. He has a below-average strikeout rate for a catcher and is defensively sound. He only allowed one passed ball over 36 games (Fangraphs).
While it is improbable the Yankees go this route, he is still available on the market, and his contract expectations could dwindle as time goes on.