Aside from naming a manager, the Yankees No. 1 priority this offseason is winning the bid for Shohei Ohtani. But should they fall short in their quest, targeting international free agent Kevin Maitan is a solid second choice.
It would seem that the Shohei Ohtani saga is dragging along at the same snail’s pace as the Yankees managerial search.
So as we patiently wait for news to break on one, if not both fronts, it’s time to consider the Yankees’ options should Ohtani decide he doesn’t want to play in the Bronx.
While nine-of-out-10 outlets would have you believe New York (and not the Mets) is atop the leaderboard for Ohtani’s signature, until we see the 23-year-old pitcher/hitter, who was recently compared to Jacob deGrom by MLB Network’s Tom Verducci, don that iconic navy blue interlocking NY cap, I’m not sold.
That’s why 17-year-old switch-hitting shortstop, Kevin Maitan deserves serious consideration as an Ohtani alternative.
No, the Yankees don’t NEED a shortstop, not with Didi Gregorius proving he belongs in the same conversation as Francisco Lindor and Carlos Correa.
But as the organization proved last year by dealing prospects from positions of strength (pitching and outfield) by acquiring proven veterans from the White Sox and A’s, you can never have too much of a good thing.
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Oh yeah, there’s also the No. 1 prospect in all of baseball who also happens to be a shortstop, Gleyber Torres. With talk surrounding his impending move to third base or second base, why not add another fleet-footed kid with a bat that’s been compared to fellow countryman, Miguel Cabrera.
For those that aren’t familiar, Maitan was property of the Braves up until about a week ago when MLB handed down the stiffest penalties ever dealing with the signing and subsequent circumvention of international free agency.
Maitan was one of 13 prospects deemed illegally acquired and therefore sent back to free agency, which will commence on Dec 5.
Former Braves GM John Coppolella was banned from baseball for life and international scouting director Gordon Blakeley received a one-year suspension for their misconduct.
The crown jewel of the 2016 international free agent class, Maitan received a $4.25 million bonus, entering his first professional season as the No. 32 prospect in all of baseball.
Standing 6-foot-2, 175 pounds, Maitan has a ways to go to add muscle to his athletic frame, but prodigious power for a kid still only 17 is rare.
Though it’s entirely possible he’s one day moved from his natural position, taking a flyer on this type of talent, that only became available because of a monumental screwup, is something the Yankees should think long and hard about.
I get that the organization is littered with infield potential, namely Thairo Estrada, Cito Culver, Nick Solak, Abital Avelino, Hoy Jun Park, Kyle Holder, Wilkerman Garcia, Oswaldo Cabrera, Jesus Bastidas, Eduardo Torrealba and Brayan Jimenez — but Maitan will better than all of them combined.
Another huge plus in regards to signing Maitan is that teams can use either this years bonus money or next years. That works out swimmingly for the Yanks.