In the 2020 off-season, the New York Yankees had their eyes on two targets: Gerrit Cole and a World Series championship. Breaking the bank and going all-out for the Cy Young award winner, the Yankees landed Cole on a nine-year, $324 million deal, making him the highest paid pitcher in baseball.
As the shortened season would pan out, the highest of highs and lowest of lows would not, and could not stop the Bronx Bombers, at least until the postseason. Falling short in the ALDS to the Tampa Bay Rays, three weeks too early from their liking, GM Brian Cashman and co. have to go back to the drawing board this off-season. Missing a World Series appearance by just a few games, the Yankees are determined to make it in 2021. With a strong current supporting cast and a perfect mixture of free agency signings, the solution is simple for the Yankees.
DJ LeMahieu is a two-time batting champion and a perennial Gold Glove award winner at second base, making him an easy choice to stay in The Bronx. Unfortunately, this may only be a one-way street as LeMahieu and the Yankees were unable to agree on a contract extension, making the 32-year-old superstar a free agent. With aspirations to make a deep postseason run, LeMahieu re-signing would be a pivotal and key piece to the daily lineup. After declining his $18.9 million qualifying offer, LeMahieu will look to ink a multi-year deal, projected to be worth around $20 million per season. He should be at the forefront of all discussions for Cashman.
If DJ LeMahieu does not return to The Bronx, the Yankees will have a plethora of options in store. Shifting franchise star Gleyber Torres to the right side of second base could open up a lee-way of a new shortstop, possibly via trade. A common and household name that has been brought up in trade talks in Cleveland Indians’ Fransisco Lindor. The athletic and flashy shortstop is more likely than not to be dealt before Opening Day in April. As the Yankees rank among the best in the farm system ranks, prospects could be on the move to land Lindor.
Instead of aiming for the big target, the Yankees could ink an impact veteran to fill the middle infield void. Andrelton Simmons, 31, has been inquired and a name that has been brought up this off-season. The four-time Gold Glove winner hit nearly .300 at the dish in addition to a strong defensive year this past season. The former Los Angeles Angels second baseman could be an impactful signing for the Bronx Bombers. Johnathan Schoop, 29, could be a smart signing for Manager Aaron Boone‘s ball club. Bouncing around the league since 2017, the former all-star will look finally get back on track after his injury stints. Bringing a consistent and above-average glove to the diamond, Schoop could be a potential fit in Pinstripes this coming season.
Besides having a perennial Cy Young winner at the top of the rotation in Gerrit Cole, the Yankees need to fill the supporting cast with stronger and more durable arms. For the first time in seven years, it’s possible that the Opening Day rotation will not feature Masahiro Tanaka. Though it is a possibility, the odds are slim for this reunion in The Bronx.
All eyes are placed on the best available free agent pitcher: Trevor Bauer. Posting a 1.73 ERA in 10 starts this season, Bauer took home the National League Cy Young award. Hitting free agency for the first time in his career, Bauer is a NEED for all starting rotations, including the Yankees. Cashman should go for the gold and sign Bauer, at any cost. A realistic deal for the Cy Young winner would look like five to six years with around $20-25 million AAV.
If the Yankees aren’t willing to break bank on the Cy Young winner, which is more than willing to happen, a wide depth of starting pitching arms are available in the free agency market. Mike Minor and Charlie Morton could very much provide a veteran presence in the rotation. A rising Jake Odorizzi could also be a strong suit for The Bronx. Odorizzi, entering his ninth year in the majors, can be a rotation-bolster for the Bombers.
With James Paxton and J.A. Happ also free agents, the Yankees could favor their young and fire-powered arms over going out and making a big signing in free agency. If this is the case, arms such as Jordan Montgomery, Deivi Garcia, Michael King, Luis Severino and even Domingo German could all be in the rotation mix for the team.
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