The Bronx Tales - Assessing The Options: Outfield
With Winter Meetings about to begin, it's time to fire up the old blog machine and get cracking on The Bronx Tales, Assessing The Options series. This offseason, I am going to break it down to three categories, rather than each position. Outfield, Infield, Pitching. Simple enough?
The Yankees NEED to make moves, but that don't have THAT many moves to make, per say. So as a fan and writer, I'll do my best to keep my wildest dreams out of this, and provide realistic content through and through.
To kick things off, the outfield. As of right now, your starting outfield for the Yankees is Aaron Hicks in left, Harrison Bader in center, and Oswaldo Cabrera at right. Yup, pretty bare. With Judge and Benny hitting the open market, what will the Yankees do?
Assessing The Options: Outfield
Current Player / Locked In
Well, there is some Aaron Judge news finally from the Yankee front. Supposedly, according to Jeff Passan and many others, the team has reportedly increased its offer to somewhere around eight years and $300 million. It would be the highest AAV for a position player, and hopefully the Captain's title follows that. Reports are also saying that they will increase if the market makes them. At the current mark, that's $37.5 million per year. Not my money, so as along as the team spends, I don't care how it get's done. Now, if they become cheap after this deal, I hope they can secure his contact to be below $40 million per year.
First off, wow. They are not fucking around here. And good. Let Judge get his bag, and let's not worry about the later years of his contract. His name, image, and likeness alone will pay for the contract itself.
Clearly, the Giants meeting put the Yanks on their toes, and wanted to ensure that the reunion occurs. Honestly, fandom aside, the reunion makes the most sense. He wants to be here, the park is made for his hitting ability, there is unfinished business, the list goes on.
It makes sense to get this deal done ASAP. Winter Meetings are this weekend, and the Yankees need to figure out what they are going to do elsewhere.
It's interesting to see how the Yankees are operating thus far this offseason. The Astro's were " heavily interested" in Anthony Rizzo. The Yankees swooped in and stomped that bug quick and resigned him to a very fair offer. Will this Giants noise follow suit in the team's path for their MVP?
Now if all is said and done, and he leaves for San Fran (or even the Dodgers, but I would be more mad at that), then what's the move? To be honest, I would be shocked, and frankly, I don't know. Here are few names I've thrown together that would make the most sense.
Mitch Haniger (Mariners)
Ian Happ (Cubs)
Masataka Yoshida (Japan)
The obvious answer that catches everyone's eye is Masataka Yoshida, a career .326/.419/.538 hitter from the Orix Buffaloes. A high power, low strikeout, 4x NPB All-Star is due to be posted by his Japanese team, and teams
Reports are saying that Yoshida could be a complement in addition to Judge, which would be something else. If the Yankees lose on Judge, I anticapte him being one of the Yankees main targets. Yoshida hit 21 homers and walked 80 times to go with only 41 strikeouts for the champion Buffaloes.
I listed him in the right field spot, just because of the name, but his true position is left.
Locked and loaded. I cannot wait to have a full season of Bader after the small sample size of what we just saw. Known for his stellar defense, the hometown kid has some pop in his bat too. What a fantastic little run in the postseason from the newly acquired center-fielder. He hit .333 with a 43% on-base rate, including five homers over nine playoff games. Mark my words, Harrison Bader will be a gold glove defender next year and an All-Star.
We were robbed of seeing the full potential of Benintendi. If he was healthy for the playoffs, I think the outcome would be different. It makes plenty of sense for a reunion. Elite contact hitting and great defense. Also, another lefty at-bat presence. Last year, he hit .304 with a 37.3% on-base rate, including five homers and 51 RBIs with the Royals and Yankees this past season.
Benny is also a great postseason player, with plenty of experience (and a ring). Int he past, he has hit .272 with a 32.2% on-base rate across 21 playoff games.
The Yankees don't normally trade for rentals, especially a player of Benintendi's caliber. We saw with Rizzo last year, that the team extended him (now twice) after a deadline trade. Also, the Astros are interested in his services, so that has to be enough to bring him back.
Brandon Nimmo (Mets)
How about another lefty-swinging outfielder that gets on base and plays strong defense. That's right, Met's Brandon Nimmo is a guy who is on the Yankees radar. Last season, he posted a career high 5.4 WAR, slashing a line of .274/.367/.433 in 2022, with 16 home runs, 102 runs scored, and 64 RBI's. He ranks sixth in MLB among qualified hitters in OBP since 2018, with a .388 mark. Now his health is a question mark, but when he's on, he is one of the leagues top left fielders. Pulling him from the cross town rivals would be sweet, not going to lie.
Cody Bellinger (Dodgers)
Remember when it was Judge and Bellinger as the league's shinning stars? Two MVP's, now one is getting a $300M+ contract and the other was just non-tendered. Crazy how baseball works. Bellinger would be a project, but again, a risk worth taking. A former MVP and Gold Glove player, he would provide great depth at both first base and the corner outfield spots. Why not give him a one year prove it?
I would love for Carp to come back. He is a leader and a legend, plus a reliable lefty bat off the bench. After his fire hot start before injury, it would be cool to see if he could replicate it again. He’s 37 now and it was obvious his broken foot wasn’t fully healthy when he came back for the playoffs. Moreover, he’d essentially be returning as a backup designated hitter.
Obviously Stanton is the primary DH, but can provide plenty of reps in the outfield. Hicks is on the roster, but I think there is a chance he could be moved. Then there is Oswaldo Cabrera, who provided fantastic defense in both corner outfield spots. I don't think he starts there, I see him as the ultra young utility player, and I'd rather him up then guys like Marwin (sorry for the ricochet shot).
My Wish List Outfield
BENCH: Bellinger, Cabrera, Stanton, Carpenter (if DJLM is healthy and Gleyber is traded - more to come on infield section).
Lock in Judge to the mammoth contract, and bring back Benny, you're looking an a three headed monster of an outfield. I think adding Bellinger to a one year prove it deal as a rotational piece would be fantastic. Provides 1st and OF depth, plus he is someone Cashman has always had an eye on. Would be a low risk, high reward type move in my opinion. If they can get rid of Hicks, that would be money. Have Cabrera become a utility guy, and Stanton providing reps in the outfield too. I would absolutely love this group.
What Will Probably Happen
BENCH: Hicks, Cabrera, Stanton