About the Off-Season: Winter Meetings Frenzy?
by Tim Kabel
December 3, 2022
The Major League Baseball winter meetings begin on Sunday, December 4th. Last night, the Texas Rangers got an early start on the festivities by signing Jacob DeGrom to a five-year contract, reportedly worth $37 million a year.
I am very glad the Yankees did not sign him to that contract. At his age and with his injury history, it is unlikely he will fulfill the contract. Let the Rangers take that risk. That leads us to the question of what the Yankees will do.
The rumors are that Aaron Judge will sign in the next couple of days. So far, the only reported offer on the table is the one by the Yankees. The San Francisco Giants are very interested but, I suspect Judge will re-sign with the Yankees. Hopefully, that will happen early next week. I doubt the Yankees will sit still and gloat after doing that. They still have work to do, and other teams will be shopping as well.
The Mets will be eager to replace Jacob DeGrom and the other starters they have lost. The Yankees are reportedly very interested in Justin Verlander, Carlos Rodon, and Kodai Senga. They will need to move quickly before other teams snatch up those pitchers. The Yankees have indicated very strongly that they want to upgrade the starting rotation with a top of the rotation arm. Free agency seems to be the best way to go to do that as the Yankees probably don't want to purge their minor league system. Acquiring another starting pitcher after re-signing Judge won't be their only move.
The Yankees have indicated a desire to trade Gleyber Torres. The Seattle Mariners were rumored to be interested in him but today they acquired second baseman Kolten Wong from the Brewers. That does not mean the Yankees won't trade Torres. Other teams have expressed interest in him. At one point last season, there was almost a deal between the Yankees and the Marlins for Pablo Lopez. That deal could be resurrected but, I think it is more likely the Yankees will acquire a relief pitcher or possibly two in exchange for Torres. They are targeting high-end starters, such as the ones available on the free agent market.
Leftfield is also a position the Yankees need to fill. Ideally, the Yankees will acquire a left-handed hitting leftfielder to balance the lineup. They should not be looking for another slugger. They do not need another slugger. They need someone who hits for a high average, gets on base and can drive in runs. Andrew Benintendi and Masataka Yoshida are the two most likely candidates. Benintendi is currently a free agent, who is drawing interest from other teams, including the Houston Astros. Yoshida has yet to be posted but most likely will be very soon. If Yoshida is the Yankees’ primary target, he will not be acquired during the winter meetings. That move will take some time. If the Yankees re-sign Judge, sign a starting pitcher, and trade Torres, they will have significantly addressed the needs of the team. Ignoring the identity of the players they acquire for Torres for a moment, his removal from the team will open up second base for Anthony Volpe. There are other moves they can make to free up space and money on the roster
I suspect the Yankees will work very hard to shed themselves of the contracts and presence of Josh Donaldson and Aaron Hicks. It is true that Donaldson is a superior defender but, his offensive decline was precipitous last year. His attitude is also undesirable. Hicks brings nothing to the table. It is doubtful the Yankees would get very much for either of these two players. However, their removal from the roster would be the perfect example of addition by subtraction. They need to go because they serve no purpose for the Yankees and their continued presence on the team could be detrimental due to their potentially negative attitudes.
I anticipate a great deal of activity at the winter meetings. I do not imagine the Yankees will be innocent bystanders. I would not be surprised to see them leave San Diego with Aaron Judge signed to be a Yankee for life (and most likely named the team captain) a new starting pitcher, and the removal of players they no longer find desirable. They may very well have one or two more relief pitchers as well. If they choose to sign Andrew Benintendi, that could be done next week as well. If they decide to wait for Yoshida, they could have most of their other moves completed while allowing that process to run its course.
I expect the Yankees to be very productive in the next week and I am optimistic that Yankees’ fans will enter the holiday season feeling they have already received some nice gifts.