The New York Yankees could have $58 million to spend, but when?

robbie ray, yankees

The New York Yankees, with their free agents, players dumped, and those that might be dumped could potentially present over $58 million to spend this offseason. So far, they have done little, so the question is, when will they start spending? And will there be any worthwhile options when they decide to make moves?

The simple answer is not until the Collective Bargaining Agreement is settled, which doesn’t look like it will be anytime soon even though the present CBA expires this coming Wednesday.

The Yankees have quite a bit of money to spend and still remain below the Luxury tax threshold. But that money will go quickly if they pursue some of the big names available. Even though some players will get long contracts, the trend this season is for shorter contracts that don’t bog down teams for years to comSuppose

Suppose the Yankees will shore up the team and build one that can compete for a World Champions. In that case, they are going to need pitching help, a new shortstop, a first baseman, backup in center field, and even a new utility player to replace Tyler Wade.

Starting pitching:

Jameson Taillon, and Jordan Montgomery. The Yankees have a pretty strong core in the starter pitching department, even with the loss of Corey Kluber to free agency. Of course Gerrit Cole will be the ace in the third year of his contract. Beyond that they have 2018 ace Luis Severino and Domingo German. It should be pointed out that the Yankees don’t really know what they will get from both of those pitchers that did not pitch a full season last year.

Therein lies the problem, they really don’t have a bonafide number two pitcher to start in the postseason. The bottom line is that the Yankees need to add that number two starter. With the loss of a couple of bullpen pieces they will also have to do some shoring up there as well.

Max Scherzer would be the perfect match for the Yankees, the biggest drawback is how much it will cost to sign him. He will be 37 years-old during 2022. It is doubtful that any team will give him a long term contract. If the Yankees could get him for 3 or 4 years for about $100 million over the turn they would be lucky. But that would use up almost half of their available funds.

Kevin Gausman of the San Francisco Giants would cost about a third less than Scherzer. He was 14-6 last season, was an All-Star and came in sixth in the Cy Young voting. Still costing less is the Jays’ Robbie Ray, who would likely need $10 million and a contract of three or four years. He would be a bargain for the Yankees if he could go 13-7 for the Yankees, as he did for the Jays last season. He would also leave quite a bit in the bank for the other Yankee needs.

Shortstop:

The Yankee plan for a new shortstop is a bit cloudy. At the beginning of the postseason general manager Brian Cashman made it clear he would go after a big name shortstop. But it seems he has wavered from that promise in favor of a stop gap measure to allow Anthony Volpe or Oswald Peraza to make their debut in 2023 or 2024.

The perfect guy for that job would be Carlos Correa, but he carries with him some Houston Astros baggage, and would be very costly. Marcus Semien would also be a good fit, but after his 45 home runs last year would also be quite costly. Corey Seager would be the least expensive of the three big shortstops on the market.

If the Yankees want to go cheap and put considerably more money into bullpen upgrades, they could look to Javier Baez.

Center field:

Center field should be taken care of with a healthy Aaron Hicks, but the big question is if he can stay healthy, something he has not proven in six years with the team.

The Yankees could have options with a returning Brett Gardner, but his offense fell off dramatically in 2021. There are some names available in free agency. According to Jon Heyman, the Yankees are one of several teams in pursuit of Baltimore Orioles star outfielder Cedric Mullins. Mullins for the O’s, hit 30 home runs and notched up a .291 batting average in 2021. Because he doesn’t strike out he would be an immediate fan favorite. Although he earned next to nothing last season, his 2021 performance will bump up his annual salary into the millions.

Some other considerations now that Starling Marte has signed with the Mets in center, would be Chris Taylor or Kevin Pillar, both upgrades to Hicks. However, it is doubtful with the other needs the Yankees won’t be looking to spend big at that position, with Hicks already in place.

First Base:

If the Yankees want to do nothing at first base, they will tender an offer to Luke Voit, save some money, and hope he can stay healthy. The only problem with that, is that Voit has had near-constant issues with his knees and feet, causing him to hobble around the bases when his gets a hit.

The Yankees could resign Anthony Rizzo who has make it clear that he would like to stay in New York. Rizzo would be expensive, but likely due to his age and diminished hitting; he might be open to accepting less to stay in the Bronx. If the Yankees want to spend some money, Freddie Freeman would be the perfect choice. With his .300 batting average and 31 home runs it would be exciting. but an expensive addition to the team.

Here are my choices: Pitcher Robbie Ray $12 million. At short Corey Seager $20 million. Bring back Gardner to back up Hicks $2 million. Freddie Freeman at first $22 million. Total cost $54 million. That would leave a few million to shore up the bullpen and obtain a bench utility player, and still stay below the luxury tax threshold. Obviously if these players wouldn’t accept these amounts my choices would have to be overhauled.

Pitching: Gerrit Cole, Robbie Ray, Luis Severino, Jameson Taillon, and Jordan Montgomery. Backups Domingo German, Luis Gil, and Clarke Schmidt. Lineup: RH DJ LeMahieu, RH Aaron Judge, LF Freddie Freeman, RH Giancarlo Stanton, SH Aaron Hicks, LH Corey Seager, RH Gio Urshela, RH Gary Sanchez, and RH Gleyber Torres. Joey Gallo and Stanton alternating as DH.

Once, and if the CBA is agreed upon and there is no work stoppage the Yankees will have act at lightning speed. I’ll end the article saying, one can wish!

New York Yankees postseason in flux creates more questions than answers

New York Yankees, Luis Severino

The New York Yankees ended their 2021 season when they lost to the Boston Red Sox in the winner take all wild card game. That was over six weeks ago. The Yankees immediately announced that there would be some big changes coming for 2022, especially at shortstop. But now with December just over a week away little has taken place.

Much to the delight of Yankee fans at the start it seemed that the Yankees would be opening up the purse and spend big to get the team right for the new season. Hal Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman seemed on board indicating that they would spend big for a star shortstop like Carlos Correa or Corey Seager. But while Yankee fans argued who it would be, the Yankees threw out the wrench; with the idea they may go for a short gap option while waiting for prospects to be ready. Today we know nothing more than that.

Meanwhile the Yankees recognize they need somehow, to shore up he starting pitching rotation. The Yankees haven’t been able to do anything about that either. Unlike SS there are not a lot of starting pitchers out their in free agency. The big fish out there was Justin Verlander, we have learned that the Yankees weren’t shy and went right after him offering a one year deal for $25 million. But, for the same money he went with the Astros, the team that turned his pitcher career around.

In another surprising move and without the Yankees really getting involved the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard went to the Los Angeles Angels for $21 million, joining Mike Trout and MVP Shohei Ohtani. It now appears the two biggest free agent names are already gone, leaving Toronto’s Robbie Ray and Max Scherzer and a few others.

One of the reasons the pitching situation is to difficult to resolve, is that the Yankees may already have plenty of pitching, even if Corey Kluber who is in free agency walks. The Yankees have Gerrit Cole, Jordan Montgomery, and Jameson Taillon. Beyond that they have the returning Luis Severino and Domingo German and a few starting prospects such as Luis Gil, Nestor Cortes Jr., and Clarke Schmidt.

The only problem is that other then the first three, the Yankees really don’t know what they will get. Also if the Yankees are going for another World Championship there is no big one two punch in that group going into the postseason. So the bottom line is that the Yankees do need that true number two starter.

Other than shortstop and starting pitching the Yankees need to shore up the bullpen, get a backup centerfielder and decide what to do at first base. Many decisions yet to come, stay tuned.

New York Yankees: Revisiting Tanaka vs. Paxton Extensions

New York Yankees, James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka

Back in Mid-December, I wrote an article about the New York Yankees trying to figure out who to extend between James Paxton and Masahiro Tanaka. Paxton had injury concerns but looked to have such a high ceiling after the way he finished the 2019 season.

Masahiro Tanaka has always been relatively consistent, but there wasn’t a lot of star potential there moving forward. Paxton also had the advantage of being a power-lefty, which would help balance the Yankees rotation that would feature top right-handed arms like Gerrit Cole and Luis Severino.

Considering the ceiling for Paxton and the other benefits, I thought it would be smart if the Yankees tried to go ahead and extend James Paxton. Well, a couple of months after that article, James Paxton had to have surgery and will potentially miss the first two months of the season. Going right along with his biggest drawback, his health. There is no questioning the talent of a guy like James Paxton, but that talent can only take you so far if you can’t stay on the field. Now, as we sit here in March, have my feelings changed?

My feelings now

To a degree, yes, my feelings on this matter have changed. Tanaka has spent his entire career with the Yankees and has come up clutch when it really mattered. He’s also been relatively durable during his time with the Yankees. He would also be a lot cheaper to sign than James Paxton all things considered. If the Yankees were forced to pick either Paxton or Tanaka for an extension today, I think the Yankees would go with Tanaka, and I believe that would be the right decision. Now, could there be an alternative to both of them that we are not considering? Do the Yankees really need to bring back either of these guys after the 2020 season concludes?

There are options

The simple answer is no. The Yankees do not need to resign James Paxton or Masahiro Tanaka. Pitchers have shown the ability to come back from Tommy John and keeping that in mind, the Yankees will get Luis Severino back next year. They already have Gerrit Cole, and they have young guns like Jordan Montgomery, Clarke Schmidt, Domingo German, and Deivi Garcia, all vying for spots in the rotation. The Yankees are likely going to try to extend DJ LeMahieu after this season, which is going to tax their payroll. The Yankees will also be paying their young stars more money after the 2020 season. Maybe the best decision for the Yankees is to let both of them walk and let those young guys take over the back end of the rotation. Or perhaps some additional pitchers could prove to be alternatives.

Another lefty?

Robbie Ray is going to be the guy I keep an eye on this year when it comes to the Yankees. Ray is a guy the Yankees have tried to trade for in the past, and I think he’s going to be a target for them again this year. Ray has never pitched over 200 innings in his career, but his strikeout numbers can’t be ignored. If he’s available at the deadline, the Yankees might take a run at him. After the season’s over, the Yankees might explore his market along with feeling out the markets for Paxton and Tanaka. At the end of the day, the Yankees have a lot of options moving forward after the 2020 season. While we don’t know how the whole rotation will look moving forward, at least we can be confident who is going to be leading the rotation moving forward.

New York Yankees: Potential 2020 trade targets

Bob Nightengale tweeted out yesterday that the New York Yankees had their scouts on the prowl for another starting pitcher. The Yankees just lost Luis Severino to Tommy John. The New York Yankees next starter in line would have been James Paxton who has had injury concerns his entire career, and will start this season on the IL. Can the Yankees really depend on James Paxton to stay healthy for the rest of the season? After Paxton, you have Tanaka and Happ who have always been known as durable workhorse starters. Jordan Montgomery is currently slotted for the fourth spot, but he’s also coming off Tommy John, and we have yet to see him pitch a full outing. A bunch of unproven youngsters are vying for that fifth spot in the rotation currently. The Yankees have a team that is poised to win the entire thing this year. They cannot see another missed opportunity because they didn’t have the starting pitching. Yes, they arguably have the best pitcher in the game in Gerrit Cole, but Cole needs a quality supporting cast. He had that a month ago, but the two best pitchers behind him have gone down. Now, the Yankees will be exploring trade targets to sure things up in the rotation, and give the Yankees some cushion going into the second half of the season.

Trade Targets

Mike Minor

Mike Minor had a fantastic season in 2019. Minor pitched to a 14-10 record with a 3.59 ERA and struck out 200 batters. Minor is a solid veteran lefty for the Texas Rangers. The Yankees had discussions with the Rangers last year when it came to Minor, but nothing ever got remotely close. Minor is in the final year of his contract, and if the Rangers are not in the playoff hunt come July, Minor could be a guy that the Yankees try to acquire for the stretch run of 2020.

Robbie Ray

Robbie Ray is another guy who is in a walk year. Ray had an up and down season in 2019 where he went 12-8 with a 4.34 ERA, but he struck out 235 batters in 174.1 innings. Ray has sick stuff when he’s on, but the home runs are a little bit of a concern. The Yankees have liked Ray for years and there was a rumor circulating the last deadline that a deal was being discussed involving Clint Frazier. That deal obviously never materialized, but the Yankees were definitely involved with Ray. It would not surprise me at all if the Yankees got a high strikeout guy like Robbie Ray for the back of the rotation.

Trevor Bauer

Oh, wouldn’t this just be interesting? It is well-known that Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer are not extremely fond of each other. Could that change in a situation where they both helped lead the Yankees to the 2020 World Series? I’ve seen some fans online talk about the fact that the Yankees have been interested in Bauer for a while, but I’m not sure they would invite the drama into the dugout. The Reds are seemingly going all-in on the 2020 season. Bauer is another guy who is in a walk year, and if they are not where they want to be at the deadline, he could be a guy they look to move. It’s possible the Yankees would explore the possibility if Bauer were to become available.

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Steven Matz

It feels like every year we do this with the New York Yankees and the Mets. Every year there is a starting pitching trade that is being “discussed” between the two clubs. A couple of years ago there were rumors the Yankees were going after deGrom and Syndergaard. Last year, the Yankees were going after Zack Wheeler, and here we are again with the Yankees being interested in Steven Matz. Matz is a solid pitcher who could fill in multiple roles with the Yankees. He could slot right into the rotation, but he could also be a long weapon for the Yankees out of the bullpen. Either way, he would make for an interesting acquisition when it comes to the Yankees. However, the odds of the Mets and Yankees actually doing a bigger deal are slim to none.

What is most likely?

Those are just four names that the New York Yankees could target for starting pitching help. Minor and Ray are the most likely if the Yankees were to attack the starting pitching market. Matz is the only one on the list with control beyond 2020, but again, I just don’t see that happen. The Yankees are definitely on the prowl for starting pitching relief, but it won’t be something that they break the bank over. They won’t deal with their top-line prospects, and they won’t acquire anyone with a hefty price tag. Expect the Yankees to really go after guys who are in their walk years like Minor and Ray.

New York Yankees: Interests Turn to Robbie Ray and Zack Greinke

New York Yankees, Brian Cashman

After Marcus Stroman was shockingly dealt to the New York Mets, general manager of the New York Yankees, Brian Cashman, is turning his head elsewhere. Robbie Ray and Zack Greinke from the Arizona Diamondbacks are one of the best options left on the trade market. These are guys who can fit in with what the Yankees are looking for.

The Diamondbacks said that they are open to selling their veteran players. A deal with the Yankees would most likely send Deivi Garcia, Clint Frazier, and Miguel Andujar to Arizona. Many teams have asked for Gleyber Torres but the Yankees have made it clear that he is off-limits. There is also a boatload of Yankee minor league talent that could be dealt away to teams who are looking to rebuild.

Robbie Ray is a 27 year old veteran lefty who is signed on a 1-year, $6 million contact. He’ll become a free agent next year after his eligibility for salary arbitration. Zack Greinke is 35 years old who is signed on a 6-year, $206 million contract which goes into the 2021 season in which after he’ll become a free agent.

Ray holds a 3.91 ERA this season with a 9-7 record. He struggles with command however still get a lot of swing-and-misses. Veteran Greinke is credited to a 2.87 ERA with a 10-4 record. Both arms would swing perfectly with the Yankees offense and I wouldn’t be surprised if Cashman makes a deal that lands at least one of them. These next two days will be interesting.