If the New York Yankees want to have a successful off-season, general manager Brian Cashman has to be aggressive coming out of the lockout. Hal Steinbrenner instructed Cashman to wait patiently for the luxury tax threshold to reset during negotiations with the Players Union, which could affect their spending.
Before the lockout, teams spent over $1 billion on players on the market, leaving the Yankees in their dust as they scooped up the majority of talent. Nonetheless, there are still quality players available, notably Carlos Correa, Carlos Rodon, and Trevor Story. They could also set their sights on a player like Freddie Freeman if heâ€™s willing to part ways with Atlanta after winning a championship this past season.
Letâ€™s take a look at what an A+ off-season might look like for the Yankees, addressing multiple positions of concern.
An A+ off-season for the Yankees might look like this:
If the Yankees are looking for a stopgap at shortstop, Trevor Story could fit the bill perfectly over a two-year contract. Cashman has indicated they prefer to wait for Anthony Volpe to reach the majors, which will likely be in about two years. There are concerns with Story’s degrading arm strength, and if they overpay him a bit to settle on a short-term deal, The Yankees will get a solid offensive piece with power and a good defender to hold them over (moving him to 3rd on a long-term deal wouldn’t pan out).
Story had a down here in 2021 compared to his previous seasons. He hit .251 with 24 homers and a 23.4% strikeout rate. He still recorded a 3.5 WAR and 20 stolen bases, showcasing his athleticism. A two-year deal with a third-year club option would be ideal, but he would likely cost $20+ million per season over a contract of that length, which is necessary given the team’s weakness.
The Yankees were one of Seiya Suzuki’s aggressive pursuers before the lockout, and they will likely continue chasing after his signature in the future. Suzuki has been compared to former Yankee Hideki Matsui, and their statistics coming out of Japan were eerily similar. Suzuki finished the 2021 season with a .317 average and 38 homers.
It is expected that Suzuki will land a deal in the five-year, $55 million range, and given his excessive power, the Yankees would have no problem paying him with the potential for massive upside. He would likely take over in right field, moving Aaron Judge to center, leaving Aaron Hicks in a reserve role.
At some point, the Yankees are going to have to spend on a starting pitcher, and they had $25 million on the table for Justin Verlander before the lockout. They could pursue an option by Carlos Rodon, who represents one of the better names on the market currently after the top pitchers were scooped up early on. Rodon posted a 2.37 ERA in 2021 over 132.2 innings.
Given his inconsistencies throughout his career, Rodon likely wouldnâ€™t garner a long-term deal, but rather a short-term contract with incentives and an option if he performs well enough. The biggest difference for Rodon was his velocity last year, seeing a 3 mph increase with his fastball, which he used 58.6% of the time. With an increase in velocity and spin rate, Rodon has become an adequate starter and someone that could slot behind Gerrit Cole and provide the Yankees with more quality.
-Trade for Matt Olson
At some point, the Yankees need to understand that trading prospects for established players is a recipe for success. Considering they failed to develop Gleyber Torres, Gary Sanchez, and Luis Severino, utilizing some of their existing talents in the minor leagues could be useful to acquire a player like Matt Olson.
Olson is an incredible talent at 27-years-old. The Oakland Athletics still have team control over Olsen until 2024, giving him two more years of cost-efficient play at first base.
This past season, Olson hit .271 with 39 homers and a 16.8% strikeout rate. He took the jump to superstar, and injecting a lefty who can hit 40+ homers at Yankee Stadium into the lineup would be astronomical. Now, the deal would likely force the Yankees to part ways with some notable names, but a player like Olson gives your team a chance to compete offensively at a level beyond what weâ€™ve seen the past few seasons.
Altogether, this grouping of players upgrades multiple spots of need for the Bombers and will undoubtedly put them in a position to make a run at the World Series in 2022.
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