By Derek McAdam
November 18, 2022
As many Yankee fans would suspect, the team’s top priority this off-season is to keep Aaron Judge in pinstripes. This might not mean that Judge gets a blank check and can decide his own value, but it does seem as if Hal Steinbrenner is very willing to keep the 30-year old outfielder. However, new rumors have emerged on what the Yankees may do if Judge either signs elsewhere or, beforehand, makes it apparent that he won’t be returning to The Bronx.
According to the New York Post’s Jon Heyman, the Yankees have made several “surprising free-agent connections,” including shortstops Trea Turner, Carlos Correa, and Xander Bogaerts, in addition to former Mets’ outfielder Brandon Nimmo. Heyman also notes that Yankee personnel believe that Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza will be competing for the starting job, although he did not give any additional information as to whether it would be sometime in 2023 or down the road.
Are the Yankees just trying to make a big splash this off-season? I definitely think this is part of it. Even if Judge is re-signed, that’s going to most likely be the biggest move of the off-season, barring some huge blockbuster trade by another team.
Nonetheless, it doesn’t quite make sense what the Yankees are doing checking into several shortstop free agents. The Yankees seem to always be linked to the top free agents every off-season, but how many of the top players do they actually end up signing? It’s only a select few. This may be one of those instances where Yankee management is testing the waters to get a feel for how much money it will take to sign these players… or perhaps there is some legitimate interest.
Last off-season, the Yankees were in need of a shortstop to replace Gleyber Torres, but they did not seem to have much of an interest in the free agents available, which included Carlos Correa, Trevor Story, Corey Seager, and Javier Báez. Story was the only player that the Yankees seemed to take an interest in, but now it seems as if they’re looking to potentially capitalize on a move if Judge decides to sign elsewhere.
But here’s where things start to get a little questionable. Why is it that the Yankees are looking at a big shortstop signing as a fallback to Judge leaving? I have no problem with the Yankees acquiring one of these shortstops, as they are all good hitters and play very good defense, but it doesn’t make sense to me that the solution to replace an outfielder Judge is signing an infielder. There is no one that is going to replace Judge’s power at the plate, but all of them will still be able to produce at a high level.
So let’s assume that the Yankees sign one of these shortstops to a long-term contract after Judge decides to walk. What now happens with Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Volpe, and Peraza? Kiner-Falefa would probably be the first Yankee that doesn’t make the cut, as teams would show interest since he is an everyday player and could come as a rental for some teams, as he’s in the final year of arbitration. One problem solved, several more to go.
What about Volpe and Peraza? There is no reason that the Yankees need to keep both of these players in their system, so they would need to trade one of them at the bare minimum (if they do is another story.) The Yankees could use one of these two players as part of a package for a big name player, which would be a tremendous help to the team NOW.
This would lead to the next question, which is what would happen with Torres? Peraza got some decent playing time during the regular season at both shortstop and second base and seemed to do well at both positions. If the Yankees were to sign a shortstop, would they move Peraza over to second base and potentially trade Torres, who is under team control through the 2024 season? It is definitely possible, but it just raises another question that is extremely uncertain.
This is a report that just doesn’t quite add up for me. Like I mentioned, I like the idea of adding a shortstop to the team, but I don’t understand why it has to be a fallback option in case Judge doesn’t stay with the Yankees. It makes more sense to say that someone like Andrew Benintendi or Nimmo is the 2nd choice in case Judge doesn’t sign, but everything else just doesn’t make sense to me. Let’s just see how everything plays out.