It is no secret that the Yankees have a ton of work to do this winter. And one MLB Insider predicts they will be highly active on the free agent market.
After vice president of baseball operations and general manager Brian Cashman made it clear that shortstop is an area they plan on addressing before the 2022 season, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman predicted the Yankees to fill this need by making a big splash on the open market.
According to Heyman’s gut, he believes they will wind up with Los Angeles Dodgers pending free agent shortstop Corey Seager.
Seager is seemingly the most ideal fit for the Yankees given they’d be killing two birds with one stone by landing a left-handed bat who plays a position that is currently a glaring hole on this team.
Seager is set to turn 28 next April and is a two-time All Star and two-time Silver Slugger Award recipient. He has also endured success in the postseason, capturing the NLCS MVP before helping the Dodgers win the World Series in 2020.
Although Seager underwent Tommy John surgery in 2018 and missed a large portion of the 2021 season after fracturing his hand as a result of a hit by pitch, his injury history shouldn’t be enough to keep the Yankees away.
Especially since Seager was able to return to the Dodgers’ lineup last season, finishing with a 3.7 bWAR, 16 home runs, 57 RBIs and a slash line of .306/.394/.521 with a .915 OPS in 95 games.
Beyond Seager, Heyman says not to rule out shortstop Carlos Correa for either New York team in the Yankees or Mets.
There is no question that Correa is one of, if not the best shortstops in the league, leading baseball with a 7.2 bWAR. However, he is going to be costly and has also been one of the Yankees’ biggest rivals over the last five years due to his role as a villain on the Houston Astros.
Not only have the Astros knocked the Yankees out of the postseason twice in the last five seasons, but they were also caught up in an electronic sign-stealing scandal in 2017, which has led to a vast amount of backlash from opposing fanbases, particularly in the Bronx.
But while it is hard to envision Correa in pinstripes, he’d be a stellar addition to the Yankees’ lineup given his superstar ability.
On the pitching side, the Yankees lacked a true No. 2 starter behind ace Gerrit Cole. Heyman believes this will be the year where New York finally brings in a Robin to their Batman.
Heyman thinks the Yankees will sign pending free agent pitcher Robbie Ray away from their AL East rivals, the Toronto Blue Jays. The left-handed starter had a superb season, going 13-7 with a 2.84 ERA and led MLB with 248 strikeouts across 32 starts.
This has jettisoned Ray into the AL Cy Young Award conversation. Regardless of whether he takes home the hardware or not, he will still be highly sought after in free agency.
The Yankees have shown interest in trading for Ray in the past, back when he was a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
But Ray is setup for a substantial payday this winter and if the Yankees are reluctant to dish out a bloated long-term contract to a pitcher who had a career-year in 2021, they could go after a more reliable option in Marcus Stroman.
The Yankees also nearly traded for Stroman at the deadline back in 2019, but the right-hander ultimately went to their crosstown rivals in the Mets.
Stroman went 10-13 with a 3.02 ERA and led the league with 33 starts last season. Although Heyman feels Ray will be a Yankee, Stroman could be a more realistic and safer bet.
Whatever route Cashman and the Yankees decide to go, they must prioritize starting pitching this offseason.
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