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Grading Each Major Yankee Transaction This Off-Season

Grading Each Major Yankee Transaction This Off-Season

By Derek McAdam

January 27, 2023


With less than one month until the New York Yankees report to Spring Training in Tampa, Florida, their off-season is coming close to an end, although there may still be some additional moves that Brian Cashman may decide to make. However, the Yankees have already made several big transactions, including handing out the franchise’s largest ever contract. So let’s break down each major deal the Yankees completed during the off-season.

Players included in this list will comprise of either free agency signings or trades, exclusively. Isiah Kiner-Falefa’s deal to avoid arbitration will not be included, since this only covers the final year of arbitration.

Anthony Rizzo

Bringing back Rizzo was the first big move of the off-season that Cashman made. While Rizzo may not have the most amazing stats offensively, he still slugged 32 home runs and drove in 75 runs while walking 58 times. At the plate, Rizzo is one of the better-disciplined Yankees and almost always does a fine job of working pitch counts. Plus, he was hit by a pitch 23 times in 2022, the fourth-most in a single season in his career.

Defensively, Rizzo was part of the driving force of the Yankees’ improved defense from 2021 to 2022. Rizzo has always been a solid fielder and saved the Yankee infield many errors last season. Defensively, Rizzo was the best first baseman that tested free agency that a team could sign for several years, so bringing back the 33-year old was a nice start for Cashman.

Rizzo signed a two-year, $34 million contract with a $17 million club option for 2025 that can be bought out for $6 million. The Yankees aren’t committing themselves to Rizzo for an extended period of time, plus he will likely still be able to give them productive seasons both years. Some may argue that the money is too much, but Rizzo has proven that he is a valuable part of the Yankees.

My Grade: B

Tommy Kahnle

One position in which the Yankees were looking to find some replacements in this off-season was the bullpen, and bringing back Kahnle was the first bullpen move Cashman made. Aroldis Chapman, Zack Britton and Chad Green all became free agents this off-season, although the Yankees were unable to get a full season out of any of those players in 2022. It seems as if Kahnle is just an addition to the bullpen Yankees fans saw in the second half of 2022.

Kahnle was coming off Tommy John Surgery last season and only appeared in 13 games for the Dodgers, pitching to a 2.84 ERA in 12.2 innings of work. While the sample size isn’t significant, Kahnle is fully healthy, or at least it seems he is, coming into the 2023 season and will definitely play a crucial role in the Yankee bullpen.

The New York-native signed a two-year, $11.5 million contract with the Yankees on Dec. 6. Kahnle has had his ups and downs in the Bronx, but has proven that he can handle the spotlight and big situations. This was an inexpensive signing that may end up being a bargain for the Yankees as long as Kahnle is fully healthy and can stay healthy.

My Grade: B+

Aaron Judge

Obviously, this was the biggest move that Cashman made this off-season, and may be potentially the biggest off-season transaction in all of baseball. Judge was coming off a historical year in which he became the AL’s single-season home run leader with 62, surpassing Roger Maris’ 61 he hit in 1961 as a Yankee.

Not only did Judge set that record, but he was also a .311 hitter who walked 111 times and scored 133 runs. He provided stellar defense in center field for most of the season and was rewarded with being named the AL MVP.

Judge agreed to stay in the Bronx on a nine-year, $360 million contract, which became the largest free agent deal in MLB history. The Yankees also named him the 16th captain in the franchise’s history, becoming the first since Derek Jeter retired in 2014.

There are several things to like and dislike about this contract. Obviously, keeping Judge was a positive for the Yankees, as he is the team’s best player and is extremely popular among Yankee fans. He probably still has several years left of playing at a top tier level, and has shown over the past couple of years that he can stay healthy. This is big for the Yankees going forward.

However, Judge’s $40 million AAV is a lot for one player who turns 31 in just a few months and for someone who did not come alive during the 2022 playoffs. Nine years is also a lot of commitment for that age, considering that Judge is most likely currently in his prime. But, if Judge can give the Yankees five seasons of good hitting and stellar defense, they’ll take it. This is a contract that is fine in the short-term, but may end up being disastrous in the long-term.

My Grade: C+

Carlos Rodon

To wrap up this list was the final big move that Cashman has made (so far). Cashman said that regardless of what happened with Judge, the Yankees were interested in acquiring a top starter, which they did by bringing in Rodon. Rodon will likely take the second spot in the starting rotation and is seen as a replacement for Jameson Taillon, who signed a four-year deal with the Cubs.

In his lone season with the Giants, Rodon went 14-8 with a 2.88 ERA in 31 starts. While Rodon’s home ERA was under 2.00, his road ERA was closer to 4.00, however he had one road start in which he allowed 8 runs in 3.2 innings, which may have skewed this number. Overall, Rodon has had two solid seasons in a row, and the Yankees are hoping that he can keep this going.

Rodon signed a six-year, $162 million deal with the Yankees that takes him through his age-35 season. While starting pitching was not the Yankees biggest weakness in 2022, they did get better with this signing on paper. However, the question remains on whether Rodon can pitch at Yankee Stadium with the shorter porches and intense media scene. This signing represents the biggest question mark, particularly since the Yankees are committing half a decade to Rodon.

My Grade: B-

How do you grade the Yankees’ off-season signings? Let us know in the comments.


David Doerfler
David Doerfler
Jan 27, 2023

I disagree with giving an Incomplete grade, they're All incomplete until we see how they play out, I think we should only judge on the basis of available information. I give the Rizzo deal an A+ because excellent fielder, one of the better hitters on the team, and keeping him (and his dog) helped keep Judge. Judge is also an A grade, without him last year would've been even more an an embarrassment, although it probably would have spared them the embarrassment of being wiped out by the Astros because they probably wouldn't have made the playoffs.


Robert Malchman
Robert Malchman
Jan 27, 2023

Derek, what are the grading criteria? For example, the Rizzo contract is at a reasonable price for a reasonable duration and locks in the only lefty power hitter the Yankees have. Is the B grade because he won't have the impact that someone like a Judge would have? Basically, my question is what factors when into your conclusions, and how did you weight each factor (and I don't mean percentages or anything mathematical like that, just the qualitative elements).


Jan 27, 2023

A Transaction not mentioned: Brian Cashman 4 year extension. I'd give that a C- or a D.

Cary Greene
Cary Greene
Jan 28, 2023
Replying to

I agree here and to pile on, Cashman also makes bad "non-moves" and has been doing that for years. The non-moves are not offset by the scrap heap finds like Carpenter or the lottery ticket wins like Trevino. It's only by dumb luck that Cashman didn't burn Nestor Cortes Jr like he waffled away Garrett Whitlock and Trevor Stephan (and others). Plus, he's traded way too much usable pitching depth for basically nothing.

Understanding that not all moves are going to work out, I give Cashman some leeway and to Paul's point, Steinbrenner absolutely sets a firm budget, but what owner doesn't? Cohen? Okay, one maybe, but the Yankees do spend a ton -- as in #2 in baseball.


Jan 27, 2023

Let's be realistic. Signing Judge is an A+ move. Without Judge the Yankees would not be a contending team. I will never understand all this hand wringing about what will happen 5 years or 8 years into that contract. All that bad stuff people are worrying about would happen right now if they didn't sign Judge.

Unless you can tell me what the luxury tax will be in the next CBA or what the going price for premium players will be or what the Yankees' revenues will be 5-9 years from now you're engaging in pointless speculation. Judge's $40 million AAV was unthinkable 5 years ago let alone 9 years ago. So what happened? MLB revenues skyrocketed and so did…

Cary Greene
Cary Greene
Jan 28, 2023
Replying to

The pit of despair.


Jan 27, 2023

retaining Judge was a necessity.

he's provided 37WAR----- usually valued at $8M----- and been paid $40M

that's about a $250M difference

given a $360M commitment of future salary, it seems fairly likely that Judge will not be robbing the team but will instead provide value as well as a reasonable return on investment.

it's probably a little bit better than a C+ deal for the team---

---unless you're of the opinion that the team needs to hoard the bucks rather than compete for


I'm of the opinion that the team has been wildly profitable for the present owners

and that additional championships are an excellent way to retain and enhance the value of the team

as well as to…

Cary Greene
Cary Greene
Jan 28, 2023
Replying to

If "judged" (pun intended) from the vantage point that based on his on-field performance, Judge has played equivalently to a $288.6 million dollar free agent, while being paid $34.3 million in salary - I reckon that by the end of Judge's contract and considering the legacy he'll leave for the Yankees to market forever, there is no way that the deal is a C+ for the Yankees. It's easily an A+.

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