The Yankees nabbed their crown jewel of the offseason by re-signing outfielder Aaron Judge to a nine-year, $360 million contract. It sounds like Judge preferred to be a Yankee and keep his legacy intact. But he’s probably also confident that New York isn’t done making impact additions to the roster.
After all, most of what the Bombers have done so far is bring back players who were on the 2022 squad. This includes the likes of Judge and Anthony Rizzo. That’s good because they were integral parts of a 99-win squad. But as we saw in the ALCS, the Houston Astros are far ahead of them. So, Brian Cashman needs to do something.
The Yankees have been pursuing free-agent starting pitcher Carlos Rodon. It was rumored that they might shift to the top of the shortstop market if Judge signed elsewhere, but are they doing that anyways? There have been rumblings that New York is “working on something big”. ESPN’s Buster Olney has pointed to the likes of free-agent shortstop, Carlos Correa.
But maybe there’s another shortstop the Yankees have their eye on. Listen to this segment from DiPietro & Rothenberg about New York potentially chatting with the San Diego Padres about Fernando Tatis Jr.:
Here’s the clip where he brings up Tatis Jr. pic.twitter.com/FcjY4a1STN
— Jeremy Olenski (@JeremyOlenski) December 12, 2022
Tatis still has a handful of games left to serve in his suspension for performance-enhancing drugs. He’ll be eligible to return in the middle of April. He’s also coming off wrist and shoulder surgeries, so there’s that to think about, too.
His Padres teammates didn’t hold back once news of Tatis’ PED suspension broke. With San Diego’s recent signing of Xander Bogaerts, most projections had Tatis moving out to the outfield. But maybe A.J. Preller and the front office think the relationship is beyond repair and want to find a trade partner.
It’d be an interesting move for the Yankees, that’s for sure. Tatis could come in and play shortstop, but he also appeared in center field and right field in 2021 for the Padres. He’ll turn just 24 years old on January 2nd and had been viewed as one of the game’s brightest stars before 2022. Giving someone with potential star quality a fresh start in a big media market like New York could be exactly what he needs.
His $340 million contract has him tied to whatever team he plays for until 2034. However, he’s set to make just $7 million in 2023, and his AAV from a luxury-tax standpoint is just $21 million. It’ll go up to $24 million in 2025, but his base salary won’t hit $20 million until 2026.
So, this could be a way for the Yankees to get elite talent in their lineup without the huge financial cost (you’d think SD will probably have to kick in some money) or prospect cost. This would be a shrewd move by Cashman to try and thread the needle of trying to get meaningfully better without having to pay Correa $30-plus million per season.
It’s worth noting that Tatis has a full no-trade clause until 2028. We don’t know if what’s happened over the past year changes anything within his contract, though. Tatis himself could also be looking for a fresh start to rebuild his reputation as one of the game’s brightest young stars.
This is definitely something to keep an eye on as the offseason wears on.