Examining Other Top Free Agents...
Examining Other Top Free Agents Yankee Fans May Have Forgotten About
By Derek McAdam
October 25, 2023
As the World Series is about to get underway in just a couple of days, the free agency rumors have been very active since the conclusion of the regular season, particularly amongst teams that did not make the playoffs. The New York Yankees, as they are every off-season, are once again actively involved in the rumors, and have been linked to several big names including Cody Bellinger and Shohei Ohtani.
However, there are still many names out there that the Yankees may not have been linked to, several of which could be legitimate options that Brian Cashman has a chance at landing. Before I go any further, I would like to reiterate that I don’t think the Yankees should spend a lot of money this off-season just because it has become available. However, these are just a few free agents that Yankee fans may have forgotten all about.
The Yankees will likely be interested in scanning the market for a starting pitcher, and while Yoshinobu Yamamoto and Jordan Montgomery have both been linked to the Bronx, there is another pitcher that has also had several starts this post-season for the Philadelphia Phillies, and that is Aaron Nola.
In four starts this post-season, Nola has a 3-1 record with a 2.35 ERA in 23 IP with 23 strikeouts. His regular reason was not as strong, as he posted a 4.46 ERA. However, Nola would not come to the Yankees as an ace, but could fit comfortably in as the No. 2 or No. 3 starter in the rotation. Nola has also been able to stay relatively injury-free over the past several years, which is something that the Yankees could bring to their roster.
However, there are a couple of downsides to Nola. First, and foremost, he will likely get a big contract, as he is one of the top pitchers in the free agency market this off-season, while also having a very nice post-season. While this would be good for him, I can’t see the Yankees getting him on a short-term contract for two or maybe three seasons. Nola will likely get at least a five year deal, and the Yankees should not look to commit to a player for that long when he will be 31 next year. Again, if the Yankees are close to contending for a World Series, I think this would be a good signing. But not with their current situation.
While Gerrit Cole will likely be the AL Cy Young Award winner, his likely award-winning counterpart is set to hit free agency this off-season for the first time in his career, and he will be in for a nice contract. Blake Snell started off the 2023 season with a 5.40 ERA through his first nine starts, but turned it around to finish the season with a 2.25 ERA, recording a 1.20 ERA in his final 23 starts.
Snell had a great season at a great time, but there are several concerns I have about the southpaw pitcher that will turn 31-years-old in December. First, Snell has had his share of injuries throughout his career. He has not pitched more than 180.2 innings per season since he entered the league in 2016 and the Yankees should not be showing interest in any player that has been injured throughout their career.
Second, Snell has a tendency to walk many batters. In 180 innings in 2023, he walked 99 batters, which is abysmal. In just under 1,000 career innings pitched, he’s walked 451 batters. This was not just a one-time event, but a problem that has been consistent. It’s not to say that Snell has been a bad pitcher because of this, as his career ERA is 3.20, which is very good in today’s game. However, as he gets older, is this an issue that could end up hurting him? I can’t help but think it will at some point.
Similarly to Nola, Snell will likely get a long-term contract, one that will definitely come with a high AAV. If the Yankees decide that they want to sign a starter this off-season, Snell is the one pitcher I would highly recommend staying clear of. I think he’s an incredibly talented pitcher, but the Yankees need to build a new philosophy of not bringing players onto the team with an injury history. As Yankee fans have seen, the injured players aren’t just magically cured when they come to New York.
The final player that I will briefly discuss is a position player, one that I had no clue was set to become a free agent this off-season. The Yankees played Oswald Peraza at third base for a good chunk of September, but will they look to make some shifts in the infield this off-season and bring in Matt Chapman, who spent his last two seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays?
There is one thing that Chapman can bring to any team, and that’s an elite glove at third base. Chapman is a three-time Gold Glove winner and a two-time Platinum Glove winner in his six full seasons in the Majors, all of which he won in Oakland. But the Yankees don’t necessarily need to upgrade at third base, defensively. Peraza has shown that he might be the Yankees’ best defensive infielder at the moment, so I think they would like to stick with him.
Offensively, Chapman also doesn’t bring much to the table, at least in terms of what the Yankees should be looking for. He’s a right-handed batter who is a career .240 hitter who strikes out a lot. The majority of the Yankee lineup seemed to have that problem last year, so this is the last signing the Yankees should make. Peraza also seemed to be making some strides at the plate down the stretch, so maybe the off-season can help him build upon that and help him improve in 2024.
Out of these three players, Chapman seems to be the most likely player that the Yankees would sign, although I don’t think it is a position of need. While Cashman has said for the past three years that the Yankees need to get younger and faster, he has continued to trade for and sign veterans that are past their primes.
However, what I think will work in the Yankees’ favor is that Chapman could be a player that a team could get on a relatively short-term contract. Sure, he might be the most sought-after position player this off-season besides Bellinger, but I don’t think any team would want to commit to him beyond three years. Maybe the Yankees could convince him to take a deal where he has the option to opt-out after the first year, which could be a realistic contract that he receives.
But I think the Yankees should not take the risk of bringing Chapman onto the team. Again, the Yankees don’t have a defensive problem at third base and it’s not as if his offense is anything special. The Yankees would be better off allowing Peraza to develop more at the Major League level as opposed to bringing in a 31-year-old.
These were just a few of the free agents that I completely forgot were hitting the market, and there are still several more that I was completely unaware of. Do you think any of these players sign with the Yankees, or are there other lesser-known free agents that you think come to the Bronx?