The Yankees could pick up some big bargains at the margins as other clubs continue to decline some fairly reasonable club options.
Still, though, it got us thinking: With a growing wave of quality players being jettisoned because their club options for 2021 were too rich for their mid-market teams’ blood, there should be a larger pool of interesting depth options in free agency this year for teams like the Yankees.
Will the NYY spend a ton? No. They’ve already told us they will not!
But will they spend enough to improve quality at the margins, especially as the rest of the league tries to win an “I’m poor!” contest? That seems more likely.
The Yankees have some decisions of their own to make in the coming days, unfortunately, with Brett Gardner seeming an unlikely return at a prohibitive cost, Zack Britton looking like more of a luxury everyday (at least for 2022, sigh), and JA Happ hopefully a thing of the past.
But as the list of surprising wanderers continues to grow by the day, the Yanks will hopefully wake up and take advantage one of these days and bolster their infield depth/outfield depth/bullpen/rotation with a number of helpful players, some only a year removed from making monstrous postseason impacts.
And speaking of World Series heroes who could be the difference between winning and not winning the Fall Classic…
3. Howie Kendrick
Will Yankee killer Howie Kendrick be a member of the Yankees someday after all?
We’ve advocated for the addition of Howie Kendrick for maybe a decade, and this year, it may finally come to pass after the regressing Nationals declined his $6.5 million mutual option, making it a fair presumption he’ll sign for less than that.
Importing Kendrick will already be addition by subtraction; after all, he crushes the Yankees to such a high degree that never encountering him again would be a huge boon. But more importantly, Kendrick can still hit, and he can also fill in at second base, third base and the outfield.
It was just one year ago at the end of 2019 that Kendrick was a superstar throughout the postseason for the pesky Nats. He arrived midway through the 2017 season, worked back from a catastrophic injury, and bounced back and exceeded all expectations in 2019, hitting .344 as a 35-year-old. Then he leveled up, smacking the series-winning grand slam against the Dodgers in the NLDS, winning the NLCS MVP, and beating the Astros in Game 7, too, with a foul pole dinger off Will Harris.
That was real. That very recently happened.
Kendrick insinuated he’d retire after the 2020 season, but that was before we all knew what the 2020 season looked like. It seems likely that the view might have changed after slogging through 60 games of fan-less baseball.
The diminutive hit machine deserves a farewell tour, and he’d be tremendous insurance in the Bronx.