New York Yankees: Before the CBA Yankee options are quickly disappearing

Could the New York Yankees pursue Max Scherzer in a trade?

So far this postseason, the New York Yankees have been surprisingly quiet, as other teams are scooping up free-agent options with amazing speed, ahead of the Collective Bargaining Agreement deadline (CBA) on December 1.

Even before the end of the World Series, in which the Atlanta Braves won over the Houston Astros, the Yankees’ front office made it clear that they would be spending money to better the team for the 2022 season. General Manager Brian Cashman stated his priorities, with obtaining a star shortstop at the top of the list.

The Yankees needed to replace Gleyber Torres, who they permanently moved to second base. Getting a number two starting pitcher was also high on the list, that included help in centerfield and a decision to be made for a first baseman.

To date, the Yankees have basically done nothing. On social media Yankees fans are becoming frustrated, even enraged as it seems the Yankees have become watchers rather than actively participating in the postseason blitz to acquire team enhancing pieces to fill their needs.

The Yankees did replace third base coach Phil Nevin with ex-Mets manager Luis Rojas. The also made a play for starting pitcher Justin Verlander, who ended up signing with the Houston Astros, the team that turned his career around. The Yankees offered the same $25 million on a one-year contract; the Astros bested that with the same amount for two years.

Let’s take a look at some of the players that the Yankees have targeted or at least shown interest in, that are already gone to other teams. It seems the crosstown Mets, new owner Steve Cohen, and new general manager Billy Eppler are making every effort to make their team the one to watch in New York City, pushing the New York Yankees to the back burner.

MLB Network’s Jon Morosi and SNY’s Andy Martino have reported that Eppler is close to closing a deal for the big pitching prize out there, Max Scherzer. Reports are that they will spend as much as $42 million a year to have Scherzer pitch on the mound at Citi Field for next three or four years. Due to the cost the Yankees were never really in on Scherzer, much to the dismay of Yankee fans.

At this point there is no question that the Mets are making moves to bring them to at least a NL East division win, and maybe going to the their first World Series since 2015, in which they lost to the Kansas City Royals one game to four. The New York Yankees have not appeared in a World Series game since they won in 2009.

The Yankees were seriously looking at Starling Marte to bolster their center field presence, but that fell through, when the Mets scooped him up last week with a four year contract for a reported $78 million. If the Mets sign Scherzer, they will have already spent double the money the Yankees might consider spending. If that isn’t a statement, I don’t know what is.

Another possible starting pitching target, Kevin Gausman, and the Toronto Blue Jays are in agreement on a five-year, $110 million contract, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

Red Sox moves:

The Red Sox lost their co-ace in Eduardo Rodriguez who signed with the Detroit Tigers, before the Yankees could even bid on him. Back on the fifth of November the Sox scooped up Tim Locastro off waivers from the Yankees. Kyle Schwarber elected for free agency and the Sox as of now have not resigned him. He was big for the Sox going down the stretch with his 31 home runs on the season. The Yankees don’t seem to be interested in the center fielder.

Tampa Bay Rays changes:

From a Yankee perspective it was not good news when the Rays inked an 11-year contract with their star infielder Wander Franco. The Rays will now have there cornerstone for the rest of the decade. Earlier in the month the Rays exercised Mike Zunino’s contract option, keeping him as their primary catcher. In the most recent move, although the Yankees didn’t seem interested in keeping two time Cy Young award winner Corey Kluber in pinstripes, the Rays, who always seem to make the right moves at the right time, signing Kluber to a one-year deal gauranting him at least $8M, with the possibility of making up to $13M based on incentives.

Toronto Blue Jay changes:

The Blue Jays’ only big splash is that they signed starting pitcher Jose Berrios to a seven year contract extension, keeping him with the Blue Jays through the 2028 season. They also acquired Off Waivers From San Diego right hand pitcher Shawn Anderson. The big prize from the Jays would be pitcher Robbie Ray who had a career season, winning the Cy Young award. The Yankees have shown interest and would like to secure him in the $12 million range, but most industry analysts say he will want closer to $100 million over three of four years. At age 30 this may be his last time to get big money.

New Yankee shortstop:

Right now Yankees fans are confused by the lack of movement in acquiring a shortstop after the statement that it would be their number on priority. The situation is very cloudy, as the front office seems more concerned with short stop prospects in the farm system, then getting what they need right now. Carlos Correa is probably out of the picture due to his Astros baggage and the cost of a contract he will ask for. Another Yankee target Corey Seager is said to be asking for as much as $300 million over the next ten years, likely putting him out of the reach of the Yankees. Lately it seemed that Cashman could be going with the less expensive of the top three, in Marcus Semien, but he has just signed a seven year $175 million deal with the Texas Rangers.

With Yankee options disappearing, it leaves one wondering when and if the Yankees will act at all. With the top names tumbling off the market, it looks likes Cashman, with money to spend, will be again looking for those off the radar gems, and not any of the big names Yankee fans are hoping for.

One thing is for sure, many fans are calling for Cashman who appears to be sitting on his hands, to be fired, and for owner Hal Steinbrenner to sell the team to someone who is interested in winning rather than watching every penny.

Report: Yankees’ pursuit for elite free-agent shortstop has a caveat

brian cashman, yankees

There is no question the New York Yankees will be active in the shortstop free-agent market, but there is a caveat for any potential deals that general manager Brian Cashman makes. While adding a star talent like Carlos Correa looks excellent on paper, despite the cheating scandals and negative comments about Derek Jeter, his main vulnerability is that he presents a long-term solution at shortstop and not a stop-gap.

According to The Daily News, the Yankees prefer to settle on a stop-gap instead of a long-term solution, which changes everything.

It appears the Yankees will not be the team to hand out that deal, multiple industry sources have told the Daily News. … Sources have told The News that the Yankees don’t want to commit that much money to a shortstop. … The Yankees are expected to turn their attention elsewhere. … The Yankees are apparently comfortable going with a stopgap defensive shortstop while they wait for (Anthony) Volpe and (Oswald) Peraza to reach the majors.

The Yankees have several shortstop prospects rising through their minor-league system, including Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza. If either are able to become elite players at the position, the Yankees will need to rethink their strategy with any free agent acquisitions this off-season.
The hope is that one of their young studs will be playing SS at a starting level by 2023, so they will need two years of supplementary play until they need to make adjustments.
With that being the case, a few alternative options make more sense if Cashman is still looking to spend big money. First and foremost, Corey Seager presents a great option, as he projects to move to third base in the future. He’s coming off a season where he posted a .306 average with 16 homers and 57 RBIs. He has endured health complications in the past but offers diversity with his lefty bat and quality defense.
Another option that could fit the bill is Marcus Semien, who is coming off an incredible season with the Toronto Blue Jays. Over 162 games, Semien recorded a .265 average with 45 homers and 102 RBIs, both career-highs. He earned an All-Star appearance, Golden Glove, and Silver Slugger awards at 30-years-old in 2021. One of the best aspects of Semien is that he hasn’t missed a game in three seasons, showcasing impeccable health.
Marcus has dabbled at third base in the past, also playing 147 games at second base this past season. The Yankees can move him around due to his flexibility in the future, making him a solid option if they want to go that route. He would likely be a bit cheaper than Seager or Correa.
Ultimately, Correa doesn’t fit the bill if the Yankees are looking for a stop-gap at shortstop since he is a bonafide star at the SS spot and likely wouldn’t take well to transitioning after just two seasons with the team.

New York Yankees: Fans know the SS they want and by a wide margin

yankees, corey seager

The New York Yankees made an unusual one-and-done move, moving Gleyber Torres from the team’s experimental shortstop back to second base. Unfortunately, that move caused a juggernaut of other infield questions that will have to be answered by the start of spring training. However, that discussion is for another article; Brian Cashman’s self-admission of obtaining a high-quality shortstop is his priority this offseason.

Recent developments may make this offseason far more interesting than in recent years; other than acquiring some patched-up pitchers last year, the Yankee hasn’t done much to improve the team other than signing Gerrit Cole to a big-money contract back in December of 2019. But, of course, the main reason is that owner Hal Steinbrenner has wanted stat below the luxury tax threshold. Well, fans hold to your Yankee caps; if several industry sources are correct, he may be willing to open that Yankee purse, even going over the tax threshold.

Many believe the Yankees would like to make a change at the backstop. Still, with money to be spent elsewhere and few catcher upgrades available, many believe the Yankees will stay with the catching duo of Sanchez and Higashioka. Yet, at the same time, they pour out the bucks for three players they will need to improve the team: shortstop, centerfielder, and another starting pitcher. Luckily the Yankee will have a bevy of shortstops available to them. Big names like Trevor Story and Trea Turner are often mentioned but doubtfully receive much consideration.

Three of the best shortstops available on the market are the Houston Astros Carlos Correa, Marcus Semien of the Blue Jays, and Corey Seager of the Los Angeles Dodgers. According to sources at The Athletic Magazine, The New York Yankees are already speaking to the agents of both Correa and Seager. With this spiking the interest of Yankee fans, I decided to ask them who they wanted as the new Yankee Shortstop. I set up a poll on several Yankee fan groups on Facebook. Being these are the frontrunners, I only gave poll responders those options. I was quite surprised that the margin was so spread. Below are those shortstops and their approval rating by Yankee fans.

Corey Seager 51.5%

Corey Seager seems to be the Yankee fan favorite, and by a vast majority. According to many fan comments, it’s not necessarily because he is the best shortstop; it’s more about he isn’t Carlos Correa of the Houston Astros. New York Yankee fans have a very long memory and consider Correa’s possible involvement in the 2017 cheating season a factor. This is not to say that Seager is a great shortstop; he is. Last season although not hitting a ton of home runs(16), he is an excellent defender and is a great contact lefty hitter hitting .306

Carlos Correra 26.5%

I have to admit I chose Correra, mostly because I believe he is a more demanding player that puts it all out onto the field, much like Brett Gardner. Although he had 26 home runs last season, he is a righty. How the Yankee lineup rounds out will be a factor. Many fans put personality and nonbaseball characteristics of high importance. I tend to look only at what that player can do for the Yankees.

Marcus Semien 22%

Although Semiem picked up many of the over 1,000 votes in the poll, he did come in last among the three choices with 22% of the vote. Semien has many things going for his amount them is that; he can play short, 2nd, and 3rd base. Working against him is that he is a righty which could be a problem for the Yankees.

The New York Yankees also have to consider two wonderful shortstops coming up the ranks in the farm system but are likely two years out from the majors. The final decision will not be made on what the Yankee fans want; it will be based on the money and length of the contract needed to seal the deal.

New York Yankees News/Rumors: The inconceivable loss of LeMahieu, Charlie Morton, Marcus Semien, and Erik Kratz

New York Yankees, DJ LeMahieu

It seems like the New York Yankees haven’t won a World Series in decades; that is almost true; the last won the big prize in 2009 under the tutelage of Joe Girardi. It also seems like fans haven’t been able to sit in a ballpark and watch their favorite player in forever, but it’s only been one year. It also seems like the Yankees have enjoyed the play of DJ LeMahieu for years. It’s just been two years when the Yankees acquired him from the Colorado Rockies. DJ signed a two year $24 million contract to play at Yankee Stadium.  But as of last Sunday, that is over, and as inconceivable as it may seem, DJ may play at Yankee Stadium next year; it could be in a different team’s uniform. Yes, the Yankees could lose DJ LeMahieu.

The New York Yankees certainly want to keep their MVP and batting title winner. He has been the best and most consistent player while he has been in a Yankee uniform. The Yankees haven’t gotten to the World Series while DJ has been a Yankee, but they wouldn’t have even gotten to the postseason if it wasn’t for DJ’s stellar play.

The Yankees recognize LeMahieu’s value to the team and showed him that when he was given a qualifying offer of $18.9 million to stay with the Yankees, while not offering the same offer to the many other Yankee free agents. DJ has until next Wednesday to inform the Yankees whether he will accept the offer or reject it. John Hayman of MLB.com says he plans to reject it. That means DJ can see what’s out there for him. The Yankees can also negotiate with him. LeMahieu will be looking for a big payday, which is understandable.

Being the best player in MLB for the last two years, he will most likely look to have his pay nearly doubled.  However, at age 32, he might take less money for stability to carry him up to his retirement. DJ will have to see how much interest there is in him, in year when all MLB teams are cash strapped. The general feeling is that the Yankees may offer him as much as $20 million a year and possibly for a 4-5 year span that would take him into his 37th year. If DJ wants more than that the Yankees could let him walk, as they have other fish to fry. The Yankees desperately need to fix their pitching rotation and bullpen.

The Yankees might target Charlie Morton or Marcus Semiem

The Yankees realize they have a problem, and that problem is pitching. However, after a season that saw the Yankees lose nearly $700 million from no fans in the stands and associated revenue losses, security, Yankee Stadium upkeep, and front office and player payrolls, they are cash short. After suffering those loses, and wanting to stay below baseball’s luxury tax threshold it is very doubtful they will go after the best free agent pitcher Trevor Bauer.  Instead they will look for a solid mid-rotation pitcher. They will get some relief in the new season with the return of Luis Severino and the likely return of Domingo German, who was their best pitching in 2019.

Charlie Morton who is 37 years old could be a short gap choice for the Yankees. He would come to the Yankees at half the price of going after Bauer. Because of his age he may look for a short contract of a year or two, which could be attractive to the Yankees. Morton is a solid pitcher that showed his worth this year for the Tampa Bay Rays. He also pitched successfully for the Houston Astros against the Yankees. What may make Morton attractive to the Yankees is that he is a postseason veteran. Since 2013 in the postseason, Morton is 9-4 with an ERA of 3.38. Many believe that Morton would be good fit for the Yankees.

Marcus Semiem has been projected to land with the New York Yankees by MLBtraderumors.com. That of course is no guarantee that he will sign with the Yankees. Semien is a more than qualified shortstop that the Yankees might be interested in.  Semiem is not the greatest hitter in the world, but is an excellent defender at short. Last season he hit  .227 with 7 home runs, but in 2019 he hit .285. Picking up Semien would also mean the Yankees would have the option of moving Gleyber Torres back to his normal position at second base. Semiem would also be a economical signing that would be at a fraction of the cost of Francisco Lindor.

The Yankees 40 year old catcher Erik Kratz to has retired from baseball

The New York Yankees fans may have thought that that old guy Erik Kratz burst onto the scene when he caught for the Major League debut of the pitching pospect sensation Deivi Garcia, but the fact is that he has been around for awhile. In fact he has been a good catcher for the last eleven years. He was with the Yankees during the 2017 season and caught in 16 games for the Yankees this year. He is responsible for the Yankee quote of the year. Upon leaving the dugout to catch Garcias dubut game, he could be heard saying “I’m going out to catch my son.” Kratz was 40 and Garcia 21.

Last night Kratz announced his retirement from baseball after for playing for nine teams in eleven years. Kratz was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays all the way back in 2002, but he didn’t make a major league debut until he was 30 years old in 2010 with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He went on to play for the Philadelphia Phillies, Blue Jays, Kansas City Royals, Houston Astros, New Yankees, Milwaukee Brewers, San Francisco Giants and Tampa Bay Rays.

Kratz. although not saying he was retiring said that as a free agent he wanted to spend more time with his wife and three children. To prove the finality of his exit from baseball, he admitted he promised his daughter he would buy her a puppy when he ended his career. The family now has a puppy and that’s that.

EmpireSportsMedia.com’s William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research. Follow me on Twitter @parleewilliam.

 

 

Yankees could pursue shortstop Marcus Semien in 2021 free agency if Gleyber Torres struggles

New York Yankees, Marcus Semien

When the New York Yankees initially let Didi Gregorius walk in free agency, it instantly meant Gleyber Torres would be the next man up at the shortstop position. Torres struggled at shortstop in 2019, posting a .961 fielding percentage with 11 errors over 77 total games.

He was a bit better at second base, but his defense remains his biggest deficiency. Nonetheless, he was an All-Star and ranked 17th in MVP voting last season. His offensive efficiency has kept him cemented in the Yankees’ batting order and makes him a priority starter on defense. Shortstop is the most challenging position in the infield, and if Gleyber struggles moving forward, the Yankees might have to look elsewhere to shore up their defense.

This is where 30-year-old Marcus Semien comes into play, having taken significant steps forward defensively over the last few seasons. Offensively in 2019, he posted a .285 batting average with 33 homers and a .892 OPS. He fits the mold perfectly for a Yankees team that prioritizes heavy hitters with increased launch angles. In addition, he has been relatively healthy for the last five seasons, playing in 162 games last year.

His .981 fielding percentage at shortstop with 12 errors over 161 games was fantastic in 2019, and it far surpasses Torres’ efficiency at the position. He would be a significant grab for the Yankees defensively and add another slugger to the lineup.

However, he will likely want a significant contract, something the Yankees would have to consider with other youth players needing long-term deals in the near future.

The major question this scenario brings up is: How is Gleyver Torres re-appropriated?

In my opinion, I believe Torres is a better second baseman, and fastening him at the position allows them to decrease their liability at shortstop. With DJ LeMahieu getting older and only having one year left on his contract, the Yankees would be smart to consider moving Torres back to second base if he struggles in 2020. I do like this scenario, but it ultimately comes down to money and how Gleyber performs. Hopefully, we will be surprised, and he will solidify himself as a future building block at shortstop.