By John Schilling
Since the Major League Baseball offseason began four weeks ago, the New York Yankees have been relatively quiet as big-name free agents have flown off the board.
Aside from extending manager Aaron Boone with a three-year deal, and picking up recently fired Mets manager Luis Rojas for third base coach, the Yankees have not done much to add to next year’s team. Unfortunately for the Yankees, many of the players the team previously showed interest in or were linked to ended up signing elsewhere, especially since the baseball world prepares for the expiration of Major League Baseball’s Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).
Among these players was free-agent shortstop Corey Seager, who signed a 10-year, $325 million dollar deal with the Texas Rangers, as well as right-handed starting pitcher Justin Verlander, who re-signed with the Houston Astros on a one-year, $25 million deal despite receiving an offer from the Yankees of the same value.
The losses for the Yankees have continued to pile on with starting pitcher Corey Kluber, who played for the Yankees this past season, heading to the Tampa Bay Rays, a division rival, on a one-year deal with $8 million guaranteed. Kluber missed a big chunk of last season due to an injury, finishing the year with a 3.83 ERA in 80 innings pitched. Kluber did, however, pitch a no-hitter against the Texas Rangers on May 19, sealing his Yankees legacy despite it being short-lived.
To make matters slightly worse for the Yankees, right-handed starting pitcher Kevin Gausman is headed to the Toronto Blue Jays, another division rival, on a five-year, $110 million deal. Gausman pitched the best season of his career for the San Francisco Giants in 2021 with a 2.83 ERA and a 14-6 record.
In addition, the Yankees lost some roster depth when the team parted ways with infielder Rougned Odor, utility player Tyler Wade, outfielder Clint Frazier, first baseman Chris Gittens, and infielder Andrew Velazquez.
Hope is not completely lost for the Yankees, however, as a few of the free agents, the team has shown interest in remaining available. On the top of the Yankees list currently are first baseman Freddie Freeman and shortstop Carlos Correa, both of whom are coming off all-star seasons.
The two free agents, however, will not come cheaply and require the Yankees to break the bank, especially as other players continue to fly off the market with the lockout looming and the Yankees’ options becoming limited. Freeman, who has played his entire 11-year career with the Atlanta Braves, is seeking a six-year, $180 million dollar deal, according to MLB Network Insider Jon Heyman. Correa, who has played his entire six-year career with the Houston Astros, is expected to demand a deal similar to that of Seager’s $325 million deal with the Rangers, according to MLB.com.
Signing Freeman and/or Correa would certainly put the Yankees in a better spot, but over the last few days, the team’s acquisitions have been limited to the signing of infielder Jose Peraza to a minor league deal.
While Peraza is by no means the Yankees’ answer to the roster gaps they hope to fill, the team is seemingly running out of time and could have a hard time signing any big-name free agents after the lockdown. But the team is not giving up yet.
Late Tuesday night, the Yankees avoided arbitration with a few of their players, signing starting pitcher Domingo Germán, relief pitcher Lucas Luetge, and third baseman Gio Urshela to one-year contracts. With this, the Yankees also opted to tender contracts to catcher Gary Sanchez, third baseman Miguel Andujar, and first baseman Luke Voit, despite speculation the team was considering non-tendering the trio and sending them to free agency.
These decisions could be an indicator of what is to come for the Yankees: a major comeback offseason or a quiet winter with the roster shaping out to be most of what it was this past season. Only time will tell.