Key free agents Yankees want to sign

Multiple free agents on the Yankees' radar
Michael Bennington
Friday November 25, 2022

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The Yankees hope they can retain Aaron Judge with a new contract, but the AL MVP has not agreed to anything till now. As a Plan B, the Yankees are looking at a number of other free agents and potential trade partners. Jon Heyman of the New York Post says that the Yankees have talked to players, including Justin Verlander, Carlos Rodon, and Brandon Nimmo. Jameson Taillon and Andrew Benintendi, who were with the Yankees this season are also among the targets. Cody Bellinger, Michael Conforto, and their own free agents Jameson Taillon and Andrew Benintendi.

It’s pretty normal for the Yankees to at least talk to players’ agents early in the offseason to see if they’re interested in them or to find out how much they’re asking for. Because of this, some of these players might not be at the top of the Yankees’ list, and Heyman says that some could only be options if Aaron Judge signs with another team. Even though “the Yankees want multiple outfielders,” it is difficult for them to have both Judge and Nimmo without putting pressure on their finances. Also, the team doesn’t look ready to bid at the top of the shortstop market, unless Judge’s departure gives them a new reason to look into Carlos Correa, Trea Turner, and others.

Rizzo in, plan B for Aaron Judge in place

Since the Yankees have already secured Anthony Rizzo, their offseason strategy seems to be clear — keep Aaron Judge and sign a second outfielder, who won’t put pressure on the team finances. The Yankees may consider Conforto or Bellinger, who could accept one-year deals. The Yankees might seize on a chance to transfer one infielder like Josh Donaldson, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, or perhaps Gleyber Torres, but the existence of Oswaldo Cabrera, Oswald Peraza, and standout youngster Anthony Volpe provides the Yankees some flexibility. DJ LeMahieu‘s toe injury will also influence the front office’s future moves.

Of course, if Aaron Judge were to depart New York, a slew of new backup plans might be implemented. A Judge exit, though, may just change the position-player situations, as Heyman notes that “the pitching chases are reported to be ‘on separate tracks’” than the Yankees’ interest in position players. Though adding any high-profile player has an overall influence on a club in terms of money or luxury-tax numbers, it stands to reason that adding a new pitcher isn’t necessarily linked to Judge’s predicament since his comeback has a larger chain reaction on the lineup as a whole.

Bullpen needs improvement

Since Gerrit Cole and Nestor Cortes are already on the team, the Yankees might not need to find an ace. Luis Severino, Frankie Montas, and Domingo German all have some questions. The Yankees need a reliable arm in their bullpen to solidify the starting positions.

It makes more sense to add a new starter to the rotation. Verlander or Rodon fit the requirement very well. The Yankees were after the Cy Young Award winner in the past, but Heyman claims that “the Yankees’ confidence level on signing Verlander is low,” and he might also have a place in Plan B.

Cashman attempted to sign Verlander to a one-year, $25 million contract this offseason, but he ultimately agreed to a two-year, $50 million deal with a player option for the second season. Verlander opted out, seeking a three-year contract for more than $40 million per year in the mold of Max Scherzer.

Realistically, Verlander will probably make a little less than that, but the Yankees may be willing to give him more money for fewer years since he is 39 years old and nearing the end of his career.

Another pitcher that the Yankees are interested in is Kodai Senga, who is a bit of a wild card because no one knows how well he can make the jump from NPB to the major leagues. Senga’s stuff could make him a front-of-the-rotation arm right away, or he could end up being better suited to the middle or back of a pitching staff.

Senga is a big risk that could pay off. He had a 1.94 ERA in the Nippon league last season. He played 22 games, pitched 144 innings, and struck out 156 batters. Senga is a pitcher with an amazing amount of skill and speed. In 2022, his fastball was timed at 101.9 mph, so if he can bring that kind of speed to the MLB, he could be a huge help. But it might be better to go with a tried-and-true option like Verlander, even though it will cost a lot more. Senga is likely to get a deal worth about $15 million per season, while Verlander could get $40 million or more.

What do you think? Leave your comment below.

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