What Should Be on the Yankees’ Wish List This Holiday?
What Should Be on the Yankees’ Wish List This Holiday?
by Owen Hetherington
December 22, 2021
This holiday, Yankees fans will not be anticipating any big free agent signings. The MLB lockout has put a pause on any player transactions, including trades or free agent signings until…maybe March? Possibly mid-March?
Regardless of when the lockout is over, baseball fans around the country are in for a long, bitter offseason.
Now, as most of you know, you don’t always get everything on your wish list during the holidays. Knowing this, I thought it would be fun to evaluate the current free agent market and possible trade scenarios that should be on the Yankees’ radar post lockout.
Trevor Story or Carlos Correa?
One of the biggest question marks heading into this offseason was shortstop. Personally, I wanted the Yankees to go after Corey Seager before the lockout. After signing a 10 year, $325 Million contract with the Rangers, Seager is off the table.
Two players that had yet to sign before the deadline were Carlos Correa and Trevor Story. All offseason, I have been high on Carlos Correa and wanted to lock him up before the lockout. Correa is a .277 career hitting SS with a pair of All-Star appearances, a Gold Glove, and a WS Champion. In 2021, he ranked third at his position in Wins Above Replacement (5.8), posted a .850 OPS and he led MLB in Defensive Runs Saved (21). He is by far, the most sought-after free agent on the market this offseason. What more could you ask for?
Correa’s career accolades and a successful 2021 campaign should earn him around $250 M plus from his next contract. Are the Yankees willing to spend big on a shortstop? Before the lockout, my answer would have been yes. Now, I am not so sure Hal Steinbrenner is willing to open the wallet for a premier player like Correa, especially with Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza on the horizon, two of the Yankees’ top shortstop prospects.
Trevor Story hit 24 home runs this past season. According to Statcast, however, he would've had 48 homers at Yankee Stadium. Here are a few of the balls Story hit this year at Coors Field that stayed in the park, but would've left the yard in the Bronx: pic.twitter.com/ltwUlZzi6g — Max Goodman (@MaxTGoodman) December 4, 2021
If Trevor Story could be signed on a short-term deal, say 1-3 years, I think the Yankees should lock him up.
Despite being a two-time All-Star and Silver Slugger award recipient, Story did not have the 2021 season that Correa did. Over 141 games, Story slashed .251/.329/.471 with 24 HR and 75 RBI. Though he was worth a respectable 4.2 rWAR for the Colorado Rockies, that came paired with the second-lowest OPS+ of his career (103).
Story, 29, is not coming off an All-Star season, but he’s a multiple Silver Slugger Award winner with a solid reputation as a defender and would fill a big need in the Bronx.
After not signing any before the lockout, starting pitching will need to be an area that is addressed after the lockout.
A healthy Luis Severino could be a dynamic compliment to ace Gerrit Cole, and Jameson Taillon, coming off ankle surgery, also has frontline rotation talent.
But the Yanks could really use a reliable No.2-type starter, and free agent lefty Carlos Rodon is a compelling target.
Rodon just turned 29 and is coming off his first All-Star season, posting a 2.37 ERA in 24 starts with the Chicago White Sox. Over 132.2 innings, Rodon registered 185 strikeouts vs. 36 walks, holding batters to a .189 average.
The Yankees are interested in Carlos Rodón, per @scotgregor The 29-year-old lefty finished fifth in Cy Young voting last season with the White Sox. He had a 2.37 ERA and 185 strikeouts over 132.2 innings in 24 starts FULL STORY: https://t.co/r3UaQKwCjX pic.twitter.com/IuD29MTaK0 — Talkin' Yanks (@TalkinYanks) December 13, 2021
And now for the disclaimer: Rodon dealt with second-half shoulder issues and has a lengthy injury history, but his talent commands the Yanks’ serious consideration.
Trade for Matt Olsen
A lefty-power-hitting first basemen is likely high on the Yankees’ offseason wish list. Luckily, there are plenty of options for Brian Cashman to evaluate.
Reuniting with Anthony Rizzo has its appeal for many Yankees fans. In 49 games with the Yankees in 2021, Rizzo hit .249/.340/.428 (43-for-173) with 32 runs, 7 doubles, 8 HR, 21 RBI and 16 BB. He noticeably made a huge impact for the Yankees defensively and could be an option for the Yankees to go after post lockout.
On the wild side, if long-time Atlanta Braves’ star Freddie Freeman still lingers in free agency, the newly minted world champ and recent former NL MVP is in the discussion.
The Yankees must exhaust every trade option to pry Matt Olson from an Oakland Athletics’ team that appears to be in makeover mode. Olson turns 28 in March, has two years of team control, a Gold Glove on the shelf, and is coming off a 39-homer, 111-RBI season with a .911 OPS in 156 games.
Extend Aaron Judge
Aaron Judge has made it known to the organization that he wants to be a Yankee for life. The Yankees need to make his dream a reality.
Ideally, the Yankees should extend Judge before Opening Day 2022 before he enters the free agent market after this season. Coming off an impressive 2021 campaign where he earned his third All-Star game appearance, won a Silver Slugger Award, and placed 4th in the AL MVP race, the asking price won’t be pennies for Judge.
However, I think Judge is going to be more than willing to take a hometown discount considering his desire to stay in the organization. By locking him up before Opening Day, the Yankees won’t have to enter the bidding war that they would have to in free agency.
I’d like to see Judge extended between 5-6 years and the Yankees need to do it before Opening Day.
How do the Yankees not extend a guy who says he’s hitting 50 homers this year?
“I’m hitting 50 again this year”-Aaron Judge pic.twitter.com/Q4ivCQM91W — 161 Street Media (@161StreetMedia) December 14, 2021