Prior to the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement on Dec. 2 which sparked MLB’s first lockout since 1994, the Yankees were among the teams that were in contact with free agent superstar shortstop Carlos Correa, as Mark Berman of Fox 26 reported.
And although Correa and the Yankees seem like a match made in heaven, given his impact bat and the club’s desperate need at the shortstop position, one MLB insider is saying to pump the breaks on this dream scenario.
Appearing on ESPN 97.5 Houston’s radio show The Wheelhouse, Buster Olney explained why the Yankees might be reluctant to dish out what is expected to be a massive long-term contract for Correa.
“I know the Yankees, while they need a shortstop, I think some of their focus has been on trying to save some of their financial ammunition for an Aaron Judge negotiation coming up,” Olney told The Wheelhouse.
Judge has certainly earned a long-term deal as a result of his track record on the field. And now is the time since the 30-year-old is entering the final year of arbitration which is projected to pay him $17 million in 2022. But the Yankees have drifted away from notoriously spending like drunken sailors.
While the potential figures for a Judge extension are currently unknown, the belief is that Correa is looking for a deal that exceeds Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor’s historic 10-year, $341 million contract.
Let’s say Correa receives a 10-year, $350 million deal, and the Yankees opt to extend Judge during spring training with an eight-year, $200 million contract, the organization would be making a hefty long-term commitment of $550 million towards two players and adding $60 million to their payroll in 2022.
According to spotrac, the Yankees’ current luxury tax payroll is sitting around $221 million. If they were to sign Judge and Correa, that number would increase to $281 million, which is well above the $210 million threshold.
They are also on the hook to pay ace pitcher Gerrit Cole a total of $252 million ($36 million AAV) across the next seven seasons.
Up until this point, there have been whispers that the Yankees do not want to splurge on a shortstop with top prospects Oswald Peraza and Anthony Volpe nearing the majors.
But VP and GM Brian Cashman cannot just stand pat without making a big splash or two, thus adding significant upgrades to a roster that contains several holes. There is just no way they can sell a stopgap option at shortstop next season to an already distraught fanbase.
So, instead of Correa, the Yankees should compromise by adding Trevor Story on what will be an expensive, but lesser deal.
Unfortunately, their options are limited after the other three shortstops in this talented free agent class were snatched up prior to the work stoppage.
While Corey Seager signed a 10-year, $325 million contract with the Texas Rangers, the Yankees very well could have landed Marcus Semien (seven-years, $175 million) or Javier Báez (six-years, $140 million with opt-out after second season).
Instead, they are down to just two choices once MLB and MLBPA reach a new CBA. And if they truly intend on locking up Judge for the foreseeable future, the Yankees must seriously consider going the route of signing 29-year-old shortstop Trevor Story even if they intend on changing his position down the line.
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