Last Updated on November 5, 2023 at 9:24 am by Sara Molnick
The 2023 MLB offseason is officially underway, and Yankees fans are eager to witness the first major transaction by the team in their rebuilding quest. However, there are only a handful of notable free agents available, and many teams may find themselves compelled to explore the trade market to fulfill their roster needs. Here are five potential candidates who the Yankees are likely to try for the upcoming season.
Juan Soto: Yankees’ biggest bait
The Padres are reportedly aiming to cut their payroll down to approximately $200 million in 2024. One potential solution to achieve this financial goal is to explore the possibility of trading Juan Soto. Such a move would alleviate the burden of his projected salary, which exceeds $30 million for the upcoming season. Soto is just a year away from free agency, and given his representation by Scott Boras, it’s improbable that he would sign an extension without testing the open market.
As for the potential landing spots for Soto, due to his high salary and limited one-year control, only serious contenders are likely to pursue him. The Yankees top the list but may have to conjure risks and face competition from the Mets and the Blue Jays. While the Padres may not receive a return equal to what they gave up for him last year, they could still acquire a valuable package of young players through a Soto trade.
Manuel Margot: A low-cost option for Yankees
It may seem like a cliche to identify the highest-paid Rays players as trade candidates, but it’s worth noting that the Rays have a track record of trading such players. According to Cot’s Baseball Contracts, Tampa currently has approximately $122 million committed for the upcoming season, factoring in arbitration projections. The question arises whether ownership will substantially raise the payroll, or if well-compensated players Manuel Margot ($10 million) will be on their way out. Based on the team’s history, the latter scenario seems more likely.
Margot’s skills in the outfield and his ability against left-handed pitching make him an appealing trade target for the Yankees, who are desperate with playoff aspirations.
Alex Verdugo: Yankees can repeat swap with Red Sox
Despite no fault of his own, Alex Verdugo will forever be associated with the trade that brought him to the Red Sox in exchange for Mookie Betts. While he is undoubtedly a talented player, he is inevitably compared to the legendary Mookie. In 2023, Verdugo had a career-best season defensively, but he has just one more year of team control left. There have been no indications that the Red Sox are interested in a long-term contract extension for him and may be exploring trading the player.
The Yankees, who have a history of swapping with the Red Sox, can consider the player. The team has been in need of a left fielder for the past three years.
Dylan Carlson and Tyler O’Neill: The twin option
Dylan Carlson and Tyler O’Neill have been frequent trade candidates for approximately two years now. O’Neill, in particular, is entering his final season of team control, adding urgency to the possibility of a trade. He’s also the more productive player and could be of greater help to St. Louis in their quest to return to the postseason next year compared to Carlson. They both offer excellent center-field defense, and the Yankees can acquire them at a relatively low cost.
The Yankees have previously expressed interest in Carlson, and it’s conceivable that they will revisit that interest this winter. O’Neill could also be a valuable addition to them, adding powerful lefty-hitting to their roster.
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