With the Houston Astros and Atlanta Braves kicking off the World Series last night, free agents can sign with a new team starting five days after the World Series ends. Fans across all platforms wish that the Yankees were apart of the Fall Classic, but hope that Hal Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman can bring them their next year. Assessing the options dives into the potential retooling of the New York Yankees. We began the series with the coaching staff, and as predicted, Aaron Boone has returned.
The past few days, there has been tons of chatter about the first base position, which isn't the biggest priority on the team's punch list. However, the Yankees haven't had a solid and true first baseman since Mark Teixeira retired in 2016. A rotating list of names have covered the position, including Chris Carter, Lyle Overbay, Greg Bird (sigh), and various fillers. This season was a tad different, with a platoon of players occupying the position, including 2020 Home Run Leader Luke Voit, second baseman turned utilityman DJ LeMahieu, and trade deadline acquisition Anthony Rizzo.
The position isn't the biggest need at the moment, but one the Yankees hope to solidify. Reports stated the Anthony Rizzo is "eager to resign", while fans are convinced that Matt Olson is the option. So what does that mean for Luke Voit? This blog will be on the lengthier side because of the uncertainty of the different avenues of options. Let's begin.
Wait, I thought Rizzo was miserable as a Yank? There is no way he wants back? Please. Are you really surprised? When you dawn the pinstripes, you want to win in the pinstripes.
I don't understand why fans wouldn't want Rizzo back. He arguably is one of the top names in all of free agency, and one of the most viable and better options at the position. Rizzo slashed a line of .249/.340/.428, with a .768 OPS as a Yankee, hitting 8 home runs across 49 games. Between a new scenario and COVID, it was an off year. It wasn't his best offensive season, but I believe that was temporary.
Rizzo seems to be the epitome of a good Yank. First off, he is just a good guy, and you can tell with his philanthropic efforts. Obviously performance is what matters about production, but Rizzo has incredible defense, a great clubhouse presence, and solid lefty bat. Retaining Rizzo won't come cheap, but they shouldn't overpay when there's other positions to fill. The Cubs offered Rizzo a five-year, $70 million extension in the spring that he turned down, leading him to be dished at the deadline.
Obligatory, I have to include him on this list, though the chances of Freeman leaving Atlanta are slim-to-none now that he has helped lead the Braves to the World Series since 1999. The reigning NL MVP will be a hot commodity this offseason, but a betting man would say he stays put, either through a QO or new contract.
Another name, that yes a free agent, but I can't envision him departing from San Francisco. At one point a few years ago, it seemed he was heading on a decline, but this season sparked a new resurgence. Over his past 142 games/531 plate appearances, Belt is hitting a276/.384/.580 line with 35 homers. He’s a qualifying offer candidate himself, although not as certain as Freeman.
Other potential names
I would consider these stretches, but these players could offer versatility having DJ or Voit at first, with one of these guys swinging around the diamond when needed. Kris Bryant, primarily 3B/Of has played 212 innings at first, including 92 this year. Kyle Schawrber, who the Yankees have been interested in for years, played some first for the Red Sox. Mark Canha, who has shifted to the outfield, played over 500 innings at first back in 2015, but only 11 this past season. All are bigger name free agents, who could spark some interest in their respective positions, but create the conversation of defensive flexibility.
Besides them, there are other utility like or true first base options, but to be honest, these are just options that are available on the market. I don't expect the Yankees to consider them, but they are attainable options if they want to consider this route.
Jurickson Profar (club-option)
Albert Pujols (primary DH and so unlikely but every twenty-something year old Yankees fans would die for this)
It seems telling that the Yankees have fallen out of love with Luke Voit. The Yankees decided to snag Rizzo from the Cubs at the deadline, which was a shocking move to many. Yes, the lefty bat was the intention and blocking the rival Red Sox from acquiring their once prospect, but trading for Rizzo showcased that Voit wasn't part of the further picture. Voit was performing well once he got into a groove, won AL Player of the Week in mid-August, and was promptly benched. Boone refused to play both at the same time, even with Stanton playing some the outfield. His injury history isn't promising, despite his passion and popping biceps. Gun to my head, I think Voit is on the move. Cashman saw a gem in Voit when he didn't have a spot with the Cardinals, Trading him for a bullpen piece or even a starter would be the most ideal outcome. Teams would be interested in his power bat. There is a uncertain risk with Voit, as he is projected to earn $5.4 million in 2022. Would the Yankees risk tendering him a deal only to realize they won’t find a viable trade partner?
LeMahieu signed a six years, $90 million last season to be the starting second base. His versatility is key, which was the original intention when he first joined the Yanks, but injuries and other factors forced him to play around the diamond. He played 83 games at second, 39 at third, and 55 at the first base spot. Will the Yanks want to sign a marquee free agent when they already have a starting first baseman on a expensive contract. Hard to say, but the Yankees now that he can be the starter if called upon.
Minor League Flyer
I don't think someone in the farm will be the starter, but if DJ is the guy, they will need a viable backup just incase. If the Yankees opt to move on from Voit and not sign a first baseman, they could look to a minor leaguer to fill the void off the bench. With Mike Ford out of the picture, Chris Gittens held his own when called upon. Having just a backup first baseman occupying a bench spot isn't ideal. I am thinking someone who offers versatility, maybe a prospect who could also play catcher? That kills two birds with one stone. Players like Mickey Gasper, Josh Breaux and Anthony Siegler are names that come to mind, but are still young and raw. They would also need to be added to the 40-man, so it's definitely a "reach".
For some reason, Yankees Twitter is enamored by the idea that Athletics first baseman, Matt Olson, will be the Yankees number one priority and will trade for him. Listen, I would love that, Olson would be the second coming of Teixeira or Martinez, but is it realistic? The A's are an interesting franchisee, and would surely consider the move at the right price, but I am having a hard time wrapping my head around it. Would I love it, absolutely, I just don't know if it can happen. Jim Bowden of The Athletic suggested this trade is one of his latest pieces
Trade first baseman Luke Voit, second baseman Gleyber Torres and right-handed pitcher Domingo Germán to the Oakland Athletics for first baseman Matt Olson. Oakland would control all three of its acquired players for three more years for a lot less money than Olson, who’s controllable for only two more seasons. The A’s should be able to continue to contend, as I expect both Torres and Voit will have bounce-back years. The Yankees, meanwhile, get a Gold Glove first baseman in Olson, who is only 27 years old and coming off a year where he hit 39 home runs while playing half of his games at the spacious Oakland Coliseum. Imagine what he could do at Yankee Stadium in-between Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton in the Yankees’ lethal lineup.
A Darkhorse for sure, but if Yankees Twitter suggest Olson, why can't I suggest Bellinger? He has struggled all season, and is on a slight decline since his 2019 MVP season. Seeing Judge and Bellinger on the same team would be fantastic, and maybe a change of scenery could be helpful for the young player. Not only can he play first, but he can play center field as well. Interesting and much needed. The Dodgers fell short, even after buying large at the deadline, maybe they will want to recoup some prospects for the future.
What I would love to happen: Anthony Rizzo resigns. Four year, $100 million at minimum.
What I think will happen: DJ LeMahieu gets shifted to first base, while Luke Voit is traded. More to come on what happens for the rest of the infield.