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Looking Ahead to the 2021 Yankees – My Approach To The Off-Season, Part 3(C): Looking at Left

Over the last few weeks, I have opined on what I would do to build the 2021 Yankees.

In the previous installments of this series, I have made the following suggestions:

Keep Brian Cashman as the GM

Keep Aaron Boone as the manager, but hire an old sage as his bench coach

Not offer a contract to free agent D.J. LeMahieu

In a previous post, I demonstrated that the team has too many right-handed hitters and that, historically, the Yankees have never won a World Championship without left-handed power.

I also took a look at the right-handed hitters in the lineup and determined who could be replaced for a left-handed bat and based on my examination of the players, determined that there are really only have a few who could be traded: Luke Voit, Clint Frazier, Gary Sanchez, and Miguel Andujar.

The big question is what would any (or all) of them bring back in a trade? I also made clear in that article that my plan for the 2021 Yankees involves trading for Francisco Lindor to play shortstop for the Bombers.

Next, I made the argument that Anthony Rizzo could be available and would fit well at first base.

This would leave the Yankees with the following starting positional players:

1B – Anthony Rizzo (or Luke Voit* – see below)

2B – Gleyber Torres

SS – Francisco Lindor

3B – Gio Urshela

LF – To Be Determined

CF – Aaron Hicks

RF – Aaron Judge

DH – Giancarlo Stanton

C – To Be Determined

BENCH – To Be Determined

***

Looking At Left Field:

This is where it gets tricky.

If the Yankees acquire Francisco Lindor, that’s the huge first step. With Lindor (and Aaron Hicks), the Yankees all-of-a-sudden have some lefty pop. I still think they need one other lefty batter in the lineup. Thus, if they can get Anthony Rizzo, the problem is solved. Left field can be where Clint Frazier is placed and where he can (hopefully) shine and live up to his potential.

In essence, I would be betting on Clint Frazier over Luke Voit as a long-term solution for the Yankees. I think that’s a good bet to make. This is why I am willing to go all-in on Anthony Rizzo. I don’t see how the Yankees can address their lack of lefty bats and keep both Clint Frazier and Luke Voit. In my opinion, long term, Frazier will be a better bet than Voit. I’ll argue, even, that he might even be the better player in 2021.

But, let’s say the Yankees can’t get Anthony Rizzo and that Luke Voit remains at first base.

In that scenario, left field is left as the position for the Yankees to get one more lefty bat in the lineup. I would hate to part with Clint Frazier, but if he is what it takes to get Lindor, I would have to trade him. And if that’s what it takes to balance the lineup, then it is what it is.

There is a way to keep Clint Frazier and get the Yankees the lefty bat they need for this position. That would be through the Free Agent route. If the Yankees sign a free agent outfielder, Frazier could stay on as the 4th outfielder and grow into the position. He would probably get 400 at bats in the course of the season. (It’s not like Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks have been paragons of durability.)

But which free agent should the Yankees target?

I’ll give a few possibilities:

Free Agent Possibility #1 – Joc Pederson – I advocated for him last year. He didn’t have a great 2020, but he’s been on winning teams, is a quality lefty bat… and best of all, he could platoon with Clint Frazier getting them both playing time and having another great bat on the bench. He’s still only 29.

Free Agent Possibility #2 – Jurickson Profar – Here is a guy with 20+ home run power, who is another switch-hitter (even better than a strict lefty bat) and he can fill-in at any infield position in a pinch. And he’s only 28. My goodness.

Free Agent Possibility #3 – Aaron Hicks – (I just wanted to see if you were still playing attention.) Yes, the other move I really like is going outside the box by moving Aaron Hicks to left field and signing someone to play center field…

Who would that be?

(You may need to sit down for this…)

Jackie Bradley, Jr.

Yes, this is a move that makes a ton of sense.

Bradley is durable.

He’s been around forever, but he’ll only be 31 next season.

He is a great center fielder. Defensively, he is one of the best.

In Yankee Stadium, he’d be a 20+ homer guy.

Last year, over a full season he would have been a 3.0+ WAR player.

I think Jackie Bradley, Jr. would be a star in New York City and a Yankee Stadium favorite. (And think of that outfield defense with Hicks in left and Bradley in center, along with Judge in right. Wow!)

***

I like all three moves I outline above. Each has merit and each is a little different, but I think the Jackie Bradley, Jr. move would be the best of the three. It’s where I’m hanging my hat.

BUT I’M NOT DONE QUITE YET…

The one additional piece the Yankees need is a quality lefty bat off the bench. They need a quality left-handed batter who strikes fear into an opposing manger who decides to bring in a right-handed relief pitcher late in the game. This has been sorely lacking the last few years.

In the 2020 Post Season, the Yankees had Mike Ford in that role. It didn’t work.

Like the days when the Yankees had Chili Davis, Darryl Strawberry, Tim Raines, and even Wade Boggs as options off the bench, they need that old veteran to solidify this spot. There are two great possibilities:

Shin-Soo Choo or

Nick Markakis.

I think Shin-Soo Choo would be the player more likely to sign as a bench player than Markakis. AS such, he becomes the lefty bat/occasional DH on my team.

And with all of that, here are my 2021 New York Yankees:

1B – Anthony Rizzo

2B – Gleyber Torres

SS – Francisco Lindor

3B – Gio Urshela

LF – Aaron Hicks

CF – Jackie Bradley Jr.

RF – Aaron Judge

OF – Clint Frazier

DH – Giancarlo Stanton

C – To Be Determined

BENCH – Shin-Soo Choo

Next, I’ll address the catching position.








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