With a disappointing 2021 season and a wild card exit in the books, the Yankees’ focus is on the future.
Free agency is just around the corner, and New York has a few players set to hit the open market. The same can be said of manager Aaron Boone, whose future remains undecided after four years at the helm.
When it comes to incumbent potential free agents, Boone will be the Yankees’ biggest decision. However, they have a few other notable choices to make as a pivotal offseason nears.
Manager Aaron Boone
While not a player, Boone’s contract is up following the conclusion of the World Series. Given MLB’s preference that teams don’t make major non-playoff-related announcements during the postseason, New York may wait until then to determine Boone’s status after an underachieving 2021 season. However, ESPN’s Buster Olney reported the team is leaning toward keeping Boone.
OF Brett Gardner (mutual option)
Gardner, 38, has a player option that’s worth $2.3 million. Should he decline that, the Yankees can retain him with a $7.15 million club option of their own or buy him out for $1.15 million. There’s no chance the Yankees pick up their option, so this will come down to whether Gardner thinks he can out-earn his $2.3 million option on the open market. If he ends up a free agent, he could try landing a new deal with New York that pays more than $2.43 million but less than $7.15 million.
LHP Andrew Heaney
New York’s decision to acquire Heaney at the trade deadline never made sense, and he wound up in the minors and designated for assignment by the end of the season. He (presumably) ended his Yankees career with a 7.32 ERA after electing free agency on Oct. 7.
RHP Corey Kluber
Kluber offered mixed results after singing a one-year, $11 million deal with the Yankees following two injury-plagued seasons. At times, he looked like the pitcher than won two Cy Young awards in Cleveland—his no-hitter immediately comes to mind—but the 35-year-old struggled to stay healthy again. He made just 16 starts. If the Yankees want to bring Kluber back, it won’t be at his 2021 salary or as New York’s No. 2 starter.
OF Ryan LaMarre
LaMarre played in nine games for the 2021 Yankees, his first big-league contests since 2019. He picked up four hits, including two home runs, but spent most of his season at Triple-A. The outfielder elected free agency on Oct. 7.
RHP Darren O'Day (mutual option)
O’Day has a $1.4 million player option. Should he decline, the Yankees can exercise a $3.15 million club option or pay a $700,000 buyout. There is a chance O’Day retires after missing most of the 2021 season with a hamstring injury.
1B Anthony Rizzo
Rizzo provided the Yankees with a drastic defensive upgrade and modest offensive production after being acquired from the Cubs. His left-handed bat has the potential to do more damage over the course of a full year in Yankee Stadium, but the 32-year-old could be costly. If the Yankees want to avoid that, they still have Luke Voit under team control.
LHP Joely Rodríguez (club option)
A throw-in alongside Joey Gallo, Rodríguez pitched the best baseball of his career after joining the Yankees. The southpaw recorded a 2.84 ERA with New York, making his $3 million team option a worthwhile rate. Rodríguez would get a $500,000 buyout if the option is declined.