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Re-Calibrating: What A Good Yankee Offseason Will Look Like

By Andy Singer


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Photo Credit: Elsa, Getty Images
Photo Credit: Elsa, Getty Images


Photo Credit: Elsa, Getty Images


Prior to the start of the offseason, many Yankee fans had their sights set on a multitude of prizes. Could the Yankees pull off a trade for Francisco Lindor? Might the Yankees re-shape the roster by adding some of the best left-handed bats on the Free Agent market? Could the Yankees decide to flex their financial muscle to ensure that Gerrit Cole was paired with another high-end starting pitcher? Many Yankee fans retain the glint in their eye, particularly given the fact that most of baseball is intent on tightening their fiscal belts prior to the start of the 2021 season. Traditionally, when other teams cut costs, the Yankees use their cash advantage to capitalize. Now, while I still think that the Yankees will spend to some extent relative to what happens with the rest of the market, Yankees fans should not expect a Steinbrenner style offseason.

I’ll save you the suspense. I think there is a very low probability that the following moves occur:

1.) A Trade For Francisco Lindor

Lindor is the best shortstop in the sport. He instantly makes most teams better. The Indians appear intent on cutting costs, and Lindor’s salary gets expensive in his final year of Arbitration eligibility. However, getting a deal done that works for both sides is difficult in the context of this particular offseason. The Indians waited 1-2 years too long to trade Lindor if their goal was to re-tool and remain competitive soon after a trade. Now, the Indians’ core is getting older and more expensive, so a deal that brings multiple high-level prospects is ideal.

However, while the Yankees have the type of prospect pool that Cashman can use to make a deal, the Yankees will also look to be cost conscious this offseason. Cashman also needs to account for the fact that the Yankees would only be acquiring 1 year of Lindor’s services, and he’s highly unlikely to sign an extension as part of a trade. Lindor and his agent, Scott Boras, have made it clear that Lindor will test the Free Agent market following the 2021 season. As much as I want Lindor, I don’t want to give up prospect capital or win-now pieces for 1 year of Lindor’s services.

2.) No Big Money Starters

The Free Agent pitching market currently has the following tiers: Trevor Bauer (a pitcher who is far from the slam dunk the tabloids would lead you to believe), Masahiro Tanaka, and then a group of crafty veterans or reclamation projects. I would love to see a reunion with Tanaka, but I highly doubt that happens unless Tanaka’s price tag is far lower than in years’ past.

This year’s market just doesn’t have anyone that’s worth $20 million per year over multiple years, so the Yankees should and will steer clear.

Despite the fact that I believe the aforementioned items won’t happen, I still think the Yankees can put a winning team together that can compete for a championship without breaking the bank. Here’s what I think Cashman is likely to do this offseason:

1.) Re-Sign DJ LeMahieu, Or Pivot To A Left-Handed Bat

The Yankees have made their intentions clear: DJ LeMahieu is the priority signing of the offseason for the Yankees, and despite what we think about the fit, DJ has earned a good Free Agent contract. The analytics look good, and he’s a heart-and-soul player that fits any clubhouse. I’m not sure I’d go anywhere near the 5-year, $125 million contract LeMahieu is reportedly seeking, but 4 years and $100 million sounds about right for a player of his caliber and age (and all of a sudden, we arrive at the roughly $25 million gap by which the Yankees’ and LeMahieu’s camps are apart on a deal). LeMahieu fits the Yankees’ roster if we believe Cashman that Torres can be better at shortstop than he was in 2020 (more on that in a post soon).

If DJLM doesn’t return, things get interesting, as I think that suddenly a host of options are on the table for the money the Yanks had budgeted for LeMahieu. A left-handed, contact-oriented bat like Michael Brantley would suddenly be attainable, as would a stopgap shortstop that would allow Torres to slide over to 2B. Either of these scenarios are likely.

2.) Acquire Bullpen Certainty

The Yankee bullpen showed serious cracks in the 2020 playoffs. Just about the only thing that will be a good deal this winter will be bullpen arms, and there are a glut of good relief pitchers (or starter-reliever conversion possibilities) whose salaries are likely to be severely depressed compared to what we’ve seen recently.

Pick 2 of those guys (Brad Hand, Liam Hendriks, Kirby Yates, Blake Treinen, Carlos Rodon, etc.), and bring some certainty to the ‘pen.

3.) A Reclamation, Budget Starter

I’ve written that I really like Corey Kluber in this spot, and I’ll stand by that. I think the Yankees could go with any number of pitchers in this spot for a relatively small amount of money, and it will be well worth it. I am more bullish on projecting the Yankees’ collection of kids (Garcia, Schmidt, and even Yajure) and Jordan Montgomery in 2021 than most people, so I think the Yankees will have a very good rotation next season if everyone stays healthy. Depth is important though, so look for the Yanks to add to this crew on the backside.

Would this be the most exciting offseason ever? Far from it. Can it help the Yanks build a roster that would project to be one of the 2-3 best in 2021? Without a doubt. The Yankees are closer than many of the doomsday scenarios predict, and while many of us would like to see the Yankees make moves that would help them leap over the projection floors we see today, I think that the above plan is both far more likely, and possibly every bit as effective if everything breaks right.

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