Much like their fans, the Yankees are probably itching for the MLB lockout to end so they can make moves and complete their roster.
GM Brian Cashman was ultra conservative before the lockout came to be. No free agency moves of significance were made, leaving the Yanks to now wait until the offseason is allowed to resume to add who they want.
And the Yanks are expected to take advantage of a “unique market,” as SNY’s Andy Martino recently pointed out.
“When the lockout ends, free agents will be in a mad dash to settle on a team, and clubs looking to offload players will need to make trades in a hurry,” Martino wrote.
Because of that, New York could be very active. But just who will they go after? They already have a top three payroll in the league thanks to contracts like Gerrit Cole and Giancarlo Stanton on the payroll. How far is Cashman willing to exceed the luxury tax?
Here’s 10 players the Yankees could target:
Before the lockout, the Yanks had interest but it was assumed that Freeman would figure out a deal with the Atlanta Braves and return to the team that he just won a World Series with.
But the lockout came and a deal didn’t. So in this time of limbo, the Yanks could find themselves as a team that could persuade Freeman to come to New York.
Arguably the best in the game at the position, it would be a tremendous upgrade from the current first baseman, Luke Voit. But what kind of contract is Freeman looking for? He’s going to have suitors that might have better payroll situations than New York.
This would be the big trade of the offseason if the Yanks are able to pull it off.
Olson has long been someone connected to the Bombers, as the Oakland A’s are likely looking at a rebuild. Martino pointed out the Yankees were adamant that Anthony Volpe, their top prospect, won’t be a part of any deal.
However, like we mentioned, the A’s might drop their asking price if they really want to move Olson before the start of the 2022 campaign.
This is the big fish many fans want, but we’ll what Correa will be asking for when the lockout ends.
If it’s anything close to what Corey Seager and Marcus Semien got, forget about it — unless they really want to blow way past the luxury tax. Aaron Judge still needs an extension and that may put a dent on payroll if it’s done before or during the season.
He’s still a tremendous player and someone the Yanks have been linked to. They’ll keep a close eye on his market for sure, or Cashman could just surprise us all and snatch him up immediately.
Why not bring back the man who turned things around for this lineup in the second half of 2021?
Rizzo said he wouldn’t mind being a Yankee again, and the interest should be there as well. Again, Voit is a great ballplayer, but Rizzo is a better two-way guy who stays on the field more.
Could a short-term, two-year deal that doesn’t break the bank too much be enough? Having that lefty bat and glove in the lineup would be great for Aaron Boone.
Story could be the odd man out in this group of All-Star shortstops who entered the market this offseason. He and Correa are the only ones left, and teams will likely go after Correa first given his two-way play. Teams also get anxious when discussing Story’s home and road splits away from Coors Field, and it’s a genuine concern.
But DJ LeMahieu proved talent prevails in the end, and Story has loads of it.
If the Yanks wait it out, Story could sign a deal lower than what he may have expected to be locked in as a starter on a World Series contending team. And Story can certainly make that transition to third base down the road if one of the Yankees’ top shortstop prospects projects to still play short when it’s their time to come up. That powerful bat and solid glove would do well in the Bronx.
Stop-gap option. That’s what Simmons is if the Yanks are really focused on Volpe and Oswald Peraza coming up to the bigs soon.
Simmons’ bat is something to be skeptical about, but not his glove. He’s a highlight-reel machine who does the fundamentals well, too.
And the main component here: He’ll be cheap.
We can’t forget about pitching now, right? The Yanks’ rotation still has loads of question marks after Cole, so they’ll be looking at the remaining free agent starters.
Rodon is likely to be the top one, and the 29-year-old earned that with a solid 2021 campaign with the Chicago White Sox. He posted a 2.37 ERA in 24 starts after battling injury the previous two seasons.
That injury history might work in the Yankees’ favor, too. Teams could be wary of his shoulder, but Cashman has taken risks — including Jameson Taillon and Corey Kluber last season. Both were a much higher risk than Rodon, so he could do it again if the price point makes sense.
Is a change of scenery coming for the legendary lefty? All the Texas native has known is Los Angeles, but he seems to have been fazed out of that rotation. At least for now.
The Yanks could swoop in and bring in a much-needed lefty to the bunch (no, we didn’t forget about Jordan Montgomery. You know what I mean). Kershaw posted a 3.55 ERA in 121.2 innings last season at 33, and his devastating curveball still plays well.
Could they persuade Kershaw to join a team on the east that’s also in a big market and primed to make a run?
The bullpen could use another lefty in the bunch, and the veteran Chafin was extremely solid for the Chicago Cubs and A’s last season, posting a 1.83 ERA between the two teams.
He’s deceptive and gives quality bullpen innings, which always goes a long way in the late months.
A super infielder, Villar can play anywhere and versatility is always a good quality to have in this league. He’s also a switch hitter who was in New York last season with the Mets and did well.
Villar posted a .249/.322/.416 slash line with 18 homers, 18 doubles and 42 RBI in 142 games. This would be a fallback option if the others don’t work out, but if he’s still on the market, Cashman could very well sign him thinking Boone can use him wherever he’d like on any given night.