The New York Yankees should have clear priorities in this free agency.
Even as Major League Baseball nears the eleventh hour before the current labor agreement expires, teams are acting like it’s business as usual. Per usual, the New York Yankees are no exception.
That’s right, the GM Meetings are in full swing in Carlsbad, California, the White Plains to San Diego’s New York. Suits and golf shirts are aplenty while the general managers discuss goals for the offseason, probably over an overpriced buffet with equally overpriced bottled water, all while a work stoppage looms.
Yes, it’s strange. Perhaps even borderline sleazy, but that’s the way the baseball world turns. And given New York Yankees fans’ penchant for becoming rabid dogs in free agency season, all eyes are indeed on the Bronx Bombers.
Jim Bowden of The Athletic reports Brian Cashman has already been in touch regarding star shortstops Carlos Correa and Corey Seager. Furthermore, Erik Boland of Newsday adds the longtime Yankees GM has “latitude” when it comes to expanding the payroll.
From pitching to outfield to shortstop, the New York Yankees have plenty of needs. Regardless of what happens between now and Dec. 2, these are the five free agents they should prioritize.
Honorable Mention: Carlos Correa
Oof, Yankees Twitter is not going to like me for this one. Yes, Correa is an elite defensive shortstop with a dominant power bat. Even better, Cashman already said he isn’t worried about possible fan backlash from signing Correa due to his involvement in the Houston Astros’ cheating scandal in 2017.
Carlos Correa also has a lengthy injury history, the last thing the 2022 New York Yankees need to deal with. It’s hard to say no to a 27-year-old shortstop who otherwise fills a void, but Correa is the rare exception here.
No. 5: Kyle Seager
This would be something of an unconventional signing, but hear me out. Cashman is obsessed with upside and at 34 years old in the age of analytics, that might be all Seager has left. He set new career highs with 35 home runs and 101 RBI last season, but with a meager line of .212/.285/.438 and a .723 OPS.
But given the fluidity of New York’s infield, Kyle Seager could serve the Yankees in several ways. He’s not the best fielder at third base anymore, so maybe switch him to first if Luke Voit is traded and Anthony Rizzo not re-signed, and move DJ LeMahieu to the hot corner. On a one-year deal, he’s a fine addition.
No. 4: Marcus Stroman
The New York Yankees have their rotation for next year probably set as follows: Gerrit Cole, Jordan Montgomery, Jameson Taillon, Luis Severino, and one open spot. If Cashman wants to spend big money on an arm, Stroman is an ideal fit.
Stroman posted a 3.02 ERA for the New York Mets in 2021 and made an MLB-leading 33 starts. He’s also a New Yorker, having grown up on Long Island, and was reportedly disappointed when he was traded from Toronto to the Mets instead of the Yankees in 2019. He won’t be cheap, but could be a prime fit in the Bronx.
No. 3: Clayton Kershaw
Injuries have held Clayton Kershaw back for the last several years, and he hasn’t thrown 200 innings in a season since 2015. The New York Yankees have enough injury problems, particularly after Corey Kluber proved a $12 million whiff in 2021, but Kershaw might just be an exception.
Kershaw owns a 2.49 career ERA and posted a respectable mark of 3.55 in 21 starts last season. In New York, he’d have a pretty stout bullpen behind him and wouldn’t need to throw as many innings as he did in LA. On a short-term deal, maybe for one year with an option and incentives, he could be convinced to move east to the Bronx.
No. 2: Justin Verlander
This would indeed be an intriguing possibility, particularly since Verlander missed all of 2021 recovering from Tommy John surgery. He’ll also be 39 on Opening Day. Why would the New York Yankees want any part of another man associated with the 2017 Houston Astros?
Well, despite already being a future Hall of Famer, word is Justin Verlander plans on pitching in 2022. He recently held a workout in Florida and Joel Sherman of The New York Post reported his fastball velocity being between 94 and 97 mph. Sherman also added 15-20 teams were in attendance, and The Athletic’s Britt Ghiroli confirmed the Yankees were there.
Even if it’s just for one year, who doesn’t want to see Verlander in pinstripes?
No. 1: Corey Seager
Like the aforementioned Correa, Corey Seager has had more than a few run-ins with injuries. Yet, between his lefty swing and slick shortstop glove, he’s good enough when healthy that his lack of durability can be overlooked. Granted, so is Correa, but the last thing the New York Yankees need is another right-handed power bat.
What the New York Yankees do need, particularly if Rizzo leaves, is a balanced lineup, and adding Seager does just that. Cashman has already met with Seager’s agent and New York is desperate for a shortstop with Gleyber Torres back at second base. If Hal Steinbrenner only wants to write one big check this winter, it should be for the former World Series MVP.