We’re back with another addition of “Assessing The Options” and we’re discussing the most anticipated signing in recent years for the Yanks. The Shortstop Position
The void has been true since the departure of Didi (sorry Jeter) and they need someone to be the cornerstone of the Yankees infield for their Chase for 28. This is the most loaded shortstop class in recent history, headlined by Gold Glover Carlos Correa and World Series MVP Corey Seager. The feel good story of Bronx Native and Wild Card starter, Andrew Velazquez, has come to an end, when he was claimed by the Angels off waivers. Brian Cashman addressed the fact that one, the Gleyber Torres experiment is over, and two, the number one priority this offseason is addressing the shortstop position. The questions is, who?
The situation presents themselves in many ways. The options are endless, but which player fits the mold for the Yankees in 2022 and beyond? There are a ton of variables that make this an interesting situation.
The Yankees possess two generational prospects in the likes of Anthony Volpe (#1 Yankees, #15 MLB) and Oswald Peraza (#3 Yankees, #58 MLB), who are both slated to hit the Majors in 2023. Both have been highly touted, with great offensive production and formidable defense. Both also have been discussed in the possibility of playing third base as a possibility as well. So, with that being said, are these guys the future at the position? Also, with the stove heating up and the rumor mill churning, the ideas of adding Oakland A’s Matt Chapman and Pirates Brian Reynolds have been tossed around, but the thought is one of those prospects will need to be included.
The second variable is the financials. Every Yankee fan always imagines these elaborate fantasies of spending sprees. At the end of the day, baseball is a business, and the Yankees are a corporation. On the other hand, they are the New York Yankees, one of the richest sports franchises in the history of sports. The times of “The Boss” are long over, but his kin should open up the checkbooks, and bring back the glory of the lifestyle of the rich and the famous.
News broke that the Yankees were interested in Justin Verlander, on a 2y/$40M deal. Why is this relevant? Well, if the Yankees were going to toss him a 1y/$10M, similar to what they did with Kluber, that means they would be fiscally responsible this year and keep a close eye on the tax threshold. Tossing out $40 Mil to a veteran arm that hasn’t pitched in a minute means the Yankees are ready to ball out for the next two years before resetting the tax cap. Again, when you don’t make a World Series, let a lone win won since ’09, money shouldn’t be a barrier.
I have divided up the options into three tiers. Your Tier A is your shortstop for years to come, with the possibility of shifting them to 3rd Base or having one these prospects play third when their time comes. Tier B is your starting shortstop with the same mantra, but also having the ability to offer some versatility at different positions (outfield, second base, etc.). Your Tier C is your flyer, meaning that they will fill the gap until Volpe or Peraza are ready, but this is last case scenario.
Tier A – The Top Half
This should be the Yankees number one priority. I don’t want to hear the Astro’s rhetoric anymore. We signed Gerrit Cole to a monster deal. Would it be weird? By all means yes. But look at guys in the past. Damon, Clemens, the list goes on. You can’t be the Evil Empire without someone once wearing the black hat. If Correa wants to be a Yankee, you make that happen, end of discussion. The only concern I have is his recent IL stints, but they don't seem to be a major concern.
He's rated one of the best shortstops in recent years, and Baseball Reference #1 WAR position player this past season. He is the most skilled free agent on both sides of the ball, and inserting him between Judge and Stanton would be scary. Not gonna lie, he's made to be in the Bronx.
A guy that has been on the radar for quite some time, Seager again is another top priority player. His lefty bat is made for the Short Porch. He rarely strikes and knows how to draw walks. He is a consistent hitter and a tremendous defender. He's another one with injury concerns but again, not a major concern. He's known for his World Series MVP honors for the Dodgers in 2020, and he seems to be many of folks number one choice.
Tier B – The Bottom Half
Marcus Semien and Christ Taylor
I discussed both of these players in the second base category. They won’t command $300M deals, and they offer immense versatility that can solve multiple areas of concerns for the Yanks. These two would be great if they decide to stick with their prospects. Here's what I wrote last week.
Semien: A shortstop with the A's and a 2B with the Blue Jays, his 2021 is sure going to earn him a payday. Even though he'll be turning 32, Semien will be a hot commodity this offseason. He hit a line of .265/.334/.538 (133 OPS+), with 45 homers. He leads all MLB position players in fWAR since 2019 and one of the most durable players in the league, logging 155 games played or more in five of the last six full seasons. Taking him away from the Blue Jays would also be more than ideal.
Taylor: He spent the majority time at shortstop this season (81 games, interesting), but he also played 50 games in center, 24 in left, 12 at second, and 8 at third. Not only does he provide defensive versatility, but he also has a steady bat. In 2021, Taylor hit .254/.344/.438 with 20 home runs in 148 games. Taylor will be entering his age-31 season, so not sure the money behind the deal or if there will be any reluctance, but he is a player that fits many needs and would sure be worth the slight overpay.
The hype around Story has started to sizzle down. The Yankees attempted to acquire him from Colorado over the trade deadline, but the Rockies politely declined. It was a massive shocker that they didn’t trade him because now they are going to lose him for nothing. The Rockies are a case study blog for another time. I see him heading to St. Louis to team up with Arenado once more. He would be a more affordable option
An unrealistic option, as a see the Mets honing in on brining him back, but you have to do your due diligence. He can play third base, he hit 94 home runs in the last three full MLB seasons, his defense earned him a Gold Glove in 2020, and he led all shortstops in outs above average in 2019.
Tier C – The Flyer
Andrelton Simmons and Freddy Galvis.
Introducing your flyers. If the Yankees fail to land one of the bigger names or decide to stick to their internal options, then one of these two will be your shortstop. Not bad options, but not what fans are expecting.
Simmons is a stellar defender, probably one of the best in the league in my opinion. His offense however, has began to decline. He only hit .223/.283/.274 over 451 plate appearances with the Twins this year. Galvis is another, great defender, subpar batter. He is a switch hitter, which is nice, but he would be a nice bench addition rather than starter.
What I would love: Carlos Correa: 8-10 years, $305M ( I think it will cost $320M). The Astro's scandal is behind us. A lineup of DJLM, Judge, Correa, Stanton is brutal for pitchers and awesome for the Yankees.
What I think will happen: Corey Seager: 8-10 years, $305M. Seager offers the lefty bat, which is ideal if they let Rizzo walk. His career can see him shift to third base when either Volpe or Peraza are ready for the big leagues.
*Either way, I would be very satisfied*