The Yankees may not spend big in MLB free agency but look for Brian Cashman and his front office to pull off a few surprise moves.
The MLB Hot Stove hasn’t really heated up for the Yankees as of yet. Instead, Brian Cashman and his front office are waiting in the weeds to pounce on their targets when the time is right.
That doesn’t mean New York will be big spenders. The franchise is legitimately interested in cutting payroll to avoid the luxury tax. Cashman might not get the team under that magic number, but it will prevent the Yankees from blowing away the competition with their financial might.
Fans should expect some surprises from the Bronx Bombers as a result of their new payroll restrictions. Look for the five following predictions to come true.
5. The team will give Domingo German another chance
German’s suspension for domestic abuse really put his status with the Yankees in jeopardy. Fortunately for him, the team’s need for quality starting pitchers hasn’t subsided during his suspension.
That’s why the Yankees will be inclined to give him another chance to work his way back into the team’s good graces. He may not profile as a potential ace to go alongside Gerrit Cole atop the team’s rotation, but he should be able to slot comfortably into the middle of Aaron Boone’s rotation. Perhaps most importantly, he can eat innings right away while the team waits on Luis Severino to return from Tommy John surgery.
German can’t afford to have another incident if he wants to remain apart of the Yankees’ plans, but if he can avoid trouble he should be in line to return to the team’s starting rotation in 2021. There is a chance he gets moved via a trade, but the odds favor him breaking Spring Training as the team’s No. 3 starter.(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
4. Two popular veterans will return on one-year deals
One of the reasons the Yankees have reportedly been “docile” in the free agent market for starting pitching is because they’re confident they can bring Masahiro Tanaka back on a team-friendly deal. When push come to shove, it’s difficult to envision him pitching for any MLB team other than the Yankees next season.
The key for the Yankees will be to avoid overcommitting to Tanaka in terms of years. There are legitimate questions about when his arm will start to feel the effects of pitching so many innings as a professional. That makes a one-year deal a good solution for the team. Something around one-year, $10 million should b enough to extend his tenure in the Bronx.
Tanaka isn’t the only veteran who will return on a one-year deal. Brett Gardner will get a chance to extend his tenure as the longest-tenured player on the team. The Yankees still need a quality outfield reserve like Gardner to bolster their bench. The fact that he also hits from the left side only makes him more attractive to the team.
Expect the Yankees to flirt with bigger names on the open market, but Gardner is going to prove to be the most cost-effective solution in the end. He won’t get quite as much money as Tanaka on a one-year deal, but he could get $7 or $8 million to return.
3. Gary Sanchez will be replaced
Just because the Yankees elected to tender Gary Sanchez doesn’t mean they’re committed to him being their starting catcher next season. The front office didn’t want to see such a talented player leave New York for nothing on the open market. There’s still every chance that Sanchez gets moved via trade before Opening Day.
Even if the Yankees can’t find a workable trade for the enigmatic catcher, they could still look to acquire a new starter via free agency. There’s no indication that the franchise is a player for J.T. Realmuto at the moment, but James McCann is a name of interest for Brian Cashman.
There’s also a chance New York will investigate upgrading their catching options on the trade market. Wilson Contreras is already a name generating interest in trade discussions. Teams looking to cut payroll may be willing to part with other established veterans as Opening Day approaches.
The bottom line here is that the Yankees understand that going into next season with Sanchez and Kyle Higashioka is not a recipe for postseason success. They need to acquire a superior option to better support their pitching staff.
2. New York won’t sign a big-name starting pitcher
Yankees fans dreaming of a rotation anchored by Cole and Trevor Bauer need to wake up. Bauer will not be taking his talent to the Bronx next season. The combination of his exorbitant price tag and outspoken nature makes him a poor fit for the Yankees.
After Bauer, the options available via free agency just aren’t all that inspiring. Someone like Jake Odorizzi could make sense as a veteran stopgap for New York, but his market looks to be exceeding the team’s valuation. The Yankees just don’t see value at the top of the free agency market for starting pitchers this offseason.
If the team does acquire a relative big-name ahead of next season it’s likely going to come via trade. Lance Lynn continues to profile as a pitcher who could really help the Yankees in the short-term without really harming their war chest of young talent. Even if Lynn doesn’t come back to New York, someone like him should shake loose for Cashman on the trade market.
It’s also possible that the Yankees will just head into the regular-season with their current in-house options. That will heap pressure on youngsters like Deivi Garcia and Clarke Schmidt, but it wouldn’t stop the team from adding a veteran ahead of the trade deadline. The starting rotation the Yankees employ on Opening Day won’t necessarily be the group they go with when the postseason begins.
1. The Yankees will give D.J. LeMahieu five years
There can be no debate that the Yankees’ top offseason priority is finding a way to retain D.J. LeMahieu. He’s arguably the most important infielder the team has employed since Derek Jeter’s retirement.
The franchise will do everything they can to avoid giving in to all of his free agent demands. The team is wary of overcommitting to LeMahieu in terms of both years and dollars. At the moment, he badly wants a five-year deal while the Yankees would prefer to limit any agreement to three or four additional seasons.
The good news for Cashman is that LeMahieu’s salary demands don’t seem to be exorbitant. He isn’t looking to blow away the market by making $30 million per season. He wants a significant raise over the two-year, $24 million deal he signed with the Yankees originally, but an agreement paying him $20 million could be enough to secure his return.
Look for the Yankees to capitulate and give LeMahieu the length of deal he’s looking for in exchange for him being reasonable about the average annual value. A five-year, $100 million deal should satisfy Cashman and the crucial free agent. The Yankees likely would have been OK giving him that kind of cash in a four-year pact, stretching it one more season will be an acceptable compromise for the Yankees.
Rucker Haringey – fansided.com