The Off-Season: Panic In The City
by Tim Kabel
November 27, 2021
On Friday, the Mets, led by new general manager Billy Eppler, signed three free agents: Eduardo Escobar, Mark Canha, and Starling Marte. The Yankees signed, (prepare yourself for this one): Nobody.
The Mets had a mammoth day by signing three players. The Yankees didn’t do anything. Apparently, Brian Cashman was still eating pumpkin pie and leftover turkey. I’m sure many Yankees’ fans are quite agitated over this. They are probably complaining privately amongst themselves and in some cases, publicly about how this could have happened. They will demand to know why the Yankees didn’t sign any of these three players. The fans are acting like the cast of characters in It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad World. They are starting to panic, looking for a treasure. Well, let’s take a step back. Deep breaths, everyone. We don’t have to do yoga but let’s just calm down.
The Yankees have needs at shortstop, first base, center field, and potentially, catcher. In addition, they could use another starting pitcher. Brian Cashman has stated repeatedly he wants the Yankees to get younger, more athletic and to have more contact hitters.
Mark Canha is a first baseman and outfielder, who is 32 years old and bats right-handed. Eduardo Escobar is a 32-year-old third baseman and first baseman. He is a switch hitter who earned his first All Star nod in 2021. Starling Marte has been discussed as a potential Yankees’ target since the middle of last season. There had been a great deal of conversation around the idea of the Yankees signing him this offseason. In some circles, it was almost a foregone conclusion. He is an excellent player and as a true centerfielder, he would fill a need.
So why, oh why, didn’t the Yankees sign any of these three, and particularly Starling Marte? Should we as Yankees fans panic? Should we storm the stadium with pitchforks and torches, demanding that action be taken? In a word, no.
While it would be nice to see the Yankees make a move, making a wrong move or an unnecessary move is not something that we should encourage. The Yankees don’t need any more corner outfielders. Canha and Escobar are fine players but, they do not fit the Yankees needs right now. Neither of them would even be an upgrade over Luke Voit. The Yankees are apparently targeting Freddie Freeman, Anthony Rizzo, or Matt Olsen to play first base. The Yankees had no need for either Mark Canha or Eduardo Escobar. In addition, they’re both 32-years-old, which is contrary to the Yankees desire to get younger. If they eventually do acquire Matt Olson, he would be a much better fit as he is left-handed, an excellent fielder, and younger. Although Freddie Freeman Anthony Rizzo are around the same age as Escobar and Canha, they are both significantly better, especially Freeman. So to recap, the Yankees didn’t need either Canha or Escobar. Congratulations to the Mets and good luck. That brings us to Marte.
There are many Yankees’ fans who wanted the team to acquire Starling Marte. He is an excellent center fielder, who is a two-time Gold Glove winner. He hit .310 last year between Oakland and Miami and could be a tremendous leadoff hitter in the Bronx. However, is acquiring a 33-year-old center fielder, who signed a four-year $78 million contract, getting younger? The answer is no, it is not. Marte will not get better over the course of his contract. The best-case scenario would be for him to minimize his decline, which is inevitable. He will be 37 at the end of the contract. I think it was prudent on the Yankees’ part that they did not sign Marte. There are better options. There was an article on Friday linking them to Cedric Mullins of the Orioles. There was another one on Saturday suggesting that Byron Buxton of the Twins could be an option. Bryan Reynolds Of the Pirates is also a rumored target of the Yankees. All three of them are younger than 30. I would not be surprised if the Yankees acquire one of them, which one, I can’t tell you. I favor Mullins but, any of the three would be a marked upgrade over Aaron Hicks. Starling Marte is a fine player but, he is not the best fit for the Yankees at this stage of his career and with their stated goal of getting younger.
I believe the Yankees are focused on winning and having a sustained opportunity to do so. So, relax; don’t go into a panic. Be patient. The Yankees will do something and hopefully it will be the right thing. Not every option is the best option. By passing on the three free agents the Mets signed, I believe the Yankees made the correct moves. Making a move for the sake of making a move or signing somebody just to sign somebody is never the smart option. Let’s hope Cashman makes the right moves.