Yankees still have to sort out left field, jumbled
With about six weeks until pitchers and receivers show up for spring training, the Yankees have achieved their major offseason goals: bringing Aaron Judge back and naming him captain, adding another front-row starter to the rotation with the signing of Carlos Rodon, and keeping Anthony Rizzo at first base.
Additionally, Tommy Kahnle signed a two-year contract to provide another valuable arm in the bullpen.
But the roster still needs work, a possible new left fielder to join a mix that currently includes Oswaldo Cabrera, Aaron Hicks and potentially Estevan Florial, as well as an infield tri, which is currently muddled.
Earlier in the offseason, general manager Brian Cashman said he hoped to resolve Judge’s contract status as soon as possible to give the Yankees a clearer picture of their needs and budget for next season.
They achieved this by accepting Judge’s nine-year, $360 million deal at Winter Meetings nearly a month ago, then signing Rodon to a six-year, $162 million deal. before Christmas.
The Rizzo deal was done in November and his presence at first base is about the only certain thing for the Bronx infield.
So what’s left on the Yankees’ to-do list?
Gleyber Torres is set to get nearly $10 million in arbitration and his name was involved in trade talks last season, and although the Yankees are confident DJ LeMahieu is healthy after a fracture near his right big toe l deprived of much of its effectiveness in the second half of the season, there is reason to be cautious about the exchange of Torres.
For now, the Yankees seem determined to stick with Josh Donaldson — who is owed $27 million this season — at third base.
And Isiah Kiner-Falefa remains on the roster and will earn $6 million next season after avoiding arbitration.
But Kiner-Falefa was benched in the playoffs, as the Yankees turned to Cabrera and fellow rookie Oswald Peraza.
The Yankees hierarchy, from Cashman to general partner Hal Steinbrenner to Aaron Boone, have all praised Peraza and their other top prospect, Anthony Volpe.
If the Yankees feel the newcomers are ready to compete, they would end up with too many infielders.
They spoke to the teams about the Hicks trade. The 33-year-old hasn’t been healthy and productive for a full season since 2018 and still has three years and just over $30 million left on his contract.
Free fielders such as Andrew Benintendi, Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto have all signed elsewhere, so the Yankees should look to the trade market.
Pittsburgh’s Bryan Reynolds wants out, but the Pirates have been asking a lot so far.
Cashman has shown a willingness to be patient, as he did even last year when he waited until the trade deadline to add a desired center fielder.
And even then, Harrison Bader was sidelined with plantar fasciitis and wasn’t a factor until September.
They added minor league depth with veteran free agents Willie Calhoun and Billy McKinney, but didn’t make a move that would impact the 26-man roster.