What’s the best contract on the current Yankees roster? It’s hard to pick just one with all the quality options there are to choose from.
The Yankees have acquired or given out some bad contracts over the past few years but for the most part, the additions they’ve made have been extremely solid. Let’s take a look...
Masahiro Tanaka: 7 years/$155M (entering year 7)
Zack Britton: 3 years, $39M (entering year 2)
Adam Ottavino: 3 years, $27M (entering year 2)
DJ LeMahieu: 2 years, $24M (entering year 2)
Aroldis Chapman: 3 years, $48M ( entering year 1)
Brett Gardner: 1 year, $12.5M (entering year 1)
Gerrit Cole: 9 years, $324M (entering year 1)
On the pitching side, Masahiro Tanaka’s mega-deal has been worth every penny since he signed with New York back on January 22, 2014. His contract has worked out just as well as the HOFer Mike Mussina’s deal did after he signed long-term with the Yanks back in 2001 for six years, $88.5M. Sure Tanaka’s had some arm issues and inconsistent regular seasons, but for the most part, he’s been rock solid and in the postseason he’s been incredibly clutch.
The three-year deals Zack Britton and Adam Ottavino each signed last offseason were reasonably priced and so far they’ve worked out as well. The Yanks need Ottavino to pitch better in the postseason this year but for $9M a season he’s well worth the investment. Britton’s deal includes a club option for a fourth year that he can exercise next offseason and if he does he can make a total of $53M by the end of it. He’s arguably the best set-up men in baseball so hopefully he remains in pinstripes for another three seasons.
We’ll have to wait and see if the deals Brett Gardner and Aroldis Chapman signed this winter will pay off, but on paper, they were both necessary moves the Yanks had to make if they’re going reach their championship goals. Last season Gardner had a career year offensively and got a nice pay raise that he certainly deserved. As the longest-tenured player on the team and one of the main leaders in the clubhouse Gardner’s importance to the franchise goes beyond the diamond.
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Chapman’s season ended on a heartbreaking note in 2019, but he’s still one of the best closers in baseball. His fastball velocity isn’t what it once was but he can still hit triple digits when he wants and he’s been able to reinvent himself by throwing more sliders. That will help him continue to have success as he enters the latter stages of his career.
The best and most team-friendly contract on the Yankees is DJ LeMahieu’s and it’s not even close. He was definitely the team MVP in 2019 and the top free-agent signing in all of baseball last offseason. He’s due to make $12M this season on the final year of his deal which isn’t bad by any means, but it’s a bargain considering the incredible numbers he put up in his first year in pinstripes. The Yanks would be wise to try and lock him up to an extension as soon as possible.
Finally, Gerrit Cole’s record-breaking deal could end up hurting the Yanks six or seven years from now, but if he can help them win multiple championships before that it will all be worth it. Cole is one of the top two pitchers in baseball and the Yankees did exactly what they had to do to bring him to New York.