With some of the top shortstops off the market, what are the Yankees’ options?
There’s no baseball happening right now, which is boring and bad for the sport. But that shouldn’t end our conversations about what teams can/should do to improve once the lockout ends (hopefully soon).
The New York Yankees offseason shopping list had shortstop at the top from the get-go. The club wants to improve both offensively and, more specifically, defensively from what they have seen from Gleyber Torres.
Most believed the Yankees would go all-in to land Corey Seager, the former World Series MVP who left the Dodgers. But Seager signed a 10-year megadeal with the Texas Rangers to join another would-be Yankees option, Marcus Semien, in a $500 million middle infield.
The Yankees were also linked to Javier Báez, who was traded across town to the Mets during this past season. But Báez inked a six-year deal with the Detroit Tigers before the lockout began.
So what are the Yankees’ options?
The Yankees have been linked to Correa recently; a report out of Miami indicated the Yankees and Cubs were the most likely clubs to sign the superstar. He will (rightfully) be looking at Seager’s 10-year, $325 million deal with the Rangers as his target(s).
But there’s the off field issues that cloud a potential marriage. Of course, Correa was one of the players who cheated the Yankees out of a potential World Series appearance. And then there are his comments about Derek Jeter’s Gold Gloves that added fuel to the hatred of many Yankees fans.
There is no question, however, that Correa is one of the best shortstops in the game. And he’s likely worth every penny of a deal comparable to what Seager signed.
The Yankees may have pause in giving him a lengthy commitment because they believe Anthony Volpe is the future at shortstop, but Correa could shift to third base when Volpe is ready for the big leagues.
Story is a terrific player in his own right, and may come cheaper than Correa. We can probably use the deals for Semien in Texas and Báez in Detroit as models for what the Yankees may be able to successfully offer Story. So we’re thinking somewhere in the neighborhood of six years and $23-24 million per.
Like Correa, the concern with a deal for Story would be blocking Volpe if the Yankees believe he’s the next star shortstop in the organization. But, like Correa, Story is athletic enough that other teams like the Mariners are reportedly flirting with him as a third baseman now.
Other Free Agents
Respectfully, we’re not buying any of the other free agent shortstops being worthy of a deal with the Yankees.
Even though they have reportedly liked him for years, the best days of Andrelton Simmons‘ career are in the rearview mirror; he was a zero WAR player last year.
Freddy Galvis and José Iglesias were both 2+ WAR players last year and, like Simmons, are 32 years old. But is either a significant upgrade enough from Torres to add them on a multi-year deal? They’re at least intriguing, but not enough to make us line up for the jerseys to go on sale.
Mondesí, 26, may get displaced in Kansas City by Bobby Witt, Jr. earlyin the 2022 season. And while the Royals could consider him at second base, that’s the best position for Whit Merrifield — both of them are still in their arbitration years.
Mondesí is looking at a $3.5 million salary for 2022 and is still one of the better base stealers in the game; he has stolen 82 bases in 196 games since the start of the 2019 season.
He spent most of the 2021 season injures, however. And is a career .283 OBP guy who is average defensively. He may, ultimately, be the same player as Torres.
DeJong may be a strong buy-low candidate for the Yankees. The 28-year-old has big-time pop (he hit 19 home runs in 402 plate appearances in 2021) and is a strong defensive shortstop (1.1 dWAR per Baseball Reference in 2021) but he lost the starting job to Edmundo Sosa this past season.
Why did he lose the job? He’s struck out 549 times in 2,173 career plate appearances and failed to reach the Mendoza line in 2021; he batted .197 with a .284 OBP.
DeJong is guaranteed $15.3 million over the next two seasons, with team options for 2024 and 2025. A change of scenery could be a good thing for him, and he would be an upgrade from Torres defensively.
How would y’all feel about a reunion with Sir Didi?
He was a fan favorite while with the Yankees and, with one year left on his contract, is a player the Phillies could look to unload to make room for a more expensive, younger shortstop. He had a bad 2021 season (slashed .209/.270/.370 with a 71 OPS+) and the Phillies are looking to upgrade.
He’s a free agent after the 2022 season, however. So the reunion could be short-term and could help stabilize the Yankees’ middle infield that’s been a mess since… Didi left.