Upcoming Yankees Free Agents & Predictions
The 2019 New York Yankees season has come to another close, therefore the talks begin of who stays and who goes. The 2019 Yankees free agent class is an interesting one, which is worth analyzing. These are my predictions for every Yankee free agent this off-season.
Cory Gearrin, FA: Gearrin was claimed off waivers on August 23, simply as an extra reliever in the bullpen to eat innings. At best, he could be signed to a minor league deal by New York. I do not see the likelihood of this happening.
Cameron Maybin, FA: Maybin was brought in early in the season, simply to fill in for the injured Yankees. In the span of just a few months, Maybin became an absolute icon for Yankee fans. Over 82 games the 32-year old hit .285 with 11 home runs and 32 RBI, while providing another veteran presence in the outfield. Maybin has indicated he wants to play for the Yankees next year, and I believe that Brian Cashman will reward him for his efforts.
David Hale, FA: Hale was one of the most undervalued Yankees this season. His 3.11 ERA over 37.2 innings gave the Yankees bullpen another big boost towards the end of the season. What’s even more interesting is that he only pitched in 20 games. Hale offers bullpen length and showed very nice potential. Although I do believe Hale could be a valuable piece going forward, he elected free agency on Tuesday and will probably not be coming back to the Bronx.
Edwin Encarnacion, Team Option: Despite having a couple of lengthy injuries, Encarnacion slugged 34 home runs in only 109 games. He added another powerful bat to the Yankees lineup, and was able to fill in at first base here and there. However, Encarnacion had an absolutely dreadful postseason, going 5 for 31 over the span of the two series (four of those hits came against the Twins). Encarnacion’s contract includes a $25 million team option for next year, which will more than likely be declined by the Yanks. The Yanks may want to bring him back on a cheaper contract, but do not expect them to pick up this option.
Austin Romine, FA: Romine continued to show his worth this season, after filling in for Gary Sanchez during his multiple injuries. Hitting .281 with eight home runs and 35 RBIs over 72 games, Romine is slated to be one of the best catchers on the free agent market. The Yankees have catching depth in Kyle Higashioka, which will come at a much cheaper option. I expect to see Romine on a different team next year, possibly being an everyday starter.
Dellin Betances, FA: After pitching 0.2 innings this season after two separate injuries, Betances enters the free agent market at the worst possible time. Although he barely pitched this past season, teams will still be interested for his services. I could see the Yankees doing a one-year deal to get himself back into the swing of things but if another team gives him a multiple year deal, who would expect him to decline the offer from the Yankees. I believe we will see Betances walk in free agency.
Brett Gardner, FA: Gardner was one of the most important Yankees this season. Signed as a 4th outfielder, Gardner found himself playing every day. With C.C. Sabathia retiring, the Yanks would like to have a longtime veteran on the team. Gardner is that guy to keep, but at what cost will it come? Gardner will likely ask for a little bit of a pay raise but with Aaron Hicks out recovering from Tommy John Surgery, signing Gardner becomes even more likely.
Didi Gregorius, FA: One of the most interesting cases to watch is Gregorius. The Yankees are already stacked in the infield and are looking at other positions in order to improve their team. If the Yankees were to extend a Qualifying Offer to Gregorius, it would not shock me if he accepted it. It would cost the Yankees nearly $18 million next season, which could be used towards the signing of a starting pitcher. Plus, no one knows how well he will come back from his injury in what will be his first full season next year. I do not see the Yankees re-signing Gregorius, nor extending him an offer.
Aroldis Chapman, Player Option: In what will be a tough decision for Chapman, he will have to make the decision very soon on whether or not he will opt out of the remaining two years on his contract. Even though he surrendered the series winning home run to Jose Altuve, Chapman had a very strong season. He is not the same pitcher he was five year ago due to velocity drops, but Chapman has been a solid closer for the Yankee bullpen. I would expect him to opt-out of his contract. In doing this, he might be able to get a couple million dollars more per season. I believe the Yankees will definitely be in the mix to retain him.