Yankees: 3 players who could be dealt in salary dump trades
By Adam Weinrib
Will the Yankees keep cutting payroll? If so, these three could be on the chopping block.
The New York Yankees will have among the largest payrolls in the game in 2021.
It also won’t be large enough.
Intent on staying below the very first luxury tax threshold of $210 million, the Yankees have already proven they’d rather sign several lottery tickets than one sure thing for the rotation — say, Jake Odorizzi.
They’ve also shown that $9 million for Adam Ottavino, a risky bullpen proposition who could be elite but likely wouldn’t have pitched to that salary level, is now an intolerable cost — so intolerable, in fact, that he was shipped to the hated Red Sox.
The Ottavino trade was so predictable that we had it pegged the second the season ended. A team willing to take on sunk cost (like the Dodgers!) would’ve kept Otto in his final year under contract in hopes that he’d turn things around. The Yankees? Thank you, next. We’ve seen enough postseason skittishness.
But what if the Yanks decide they haven’t done enough to clear salary? What if they have a monstrous midseason acquisition in mind? Quite frankly, they don’t have much left on the books that’s clear-able, or would bring about a significant financial benefit.
These three players need to keep their heads on some sort of a swivel this season and next, though. Of these potential deals, one is relatively likely, one you could talk me into, and one seems downright impossible. But they’re the only options the Yanks really have to shed any form of salary, so they’re on the table.
3. Gary Sanchez
The Yankees are going to be monitoring Gary Sanchez’s cost extremely closely in 2021.
Hey, you folks like Gary Sanchez? What about when his salary increases even further?
Based on how frugal the Yanks have been in recent weeks, aren’t you a little surprised they tendered Sanchez a contract at $6.35 million for 2021? Much like picking up Zack Britton’s $13 million option, it seemed like an indication the team wouldn’t be so spend-conscious entering this offseason, and then … they very much were. Out of character, ultimately!
Sanchez has the smallest amount of rope he’s ever had entering 2021, and while there are plenty of reasons to believe in the catcher’s ability from recent history, if his April and May resemble 2021, the Yankees might begin looking to cut bait by engaging teams with plenty of financial wiggle room who love to bank on projectability. Think the Seattle Mariners might want a slugging All-Star catcher from 2017 and 2019 who is still years away from free agency?
If Sanchez had slumped in 2020 on a different team, we’d likely be clamoring for the Yankees to make a play for him as a bounce back candidate. But when the struggles occur in your backyard, you want to ship him out to a rebuilding team that can afford to take chances.
The Yankees’ payroll is divided strangely, and Sanchez is really the only mid-range expense who’d clear a “significant” amount of money without his contract being prohibitive to someone else in a deal. If he doesn’t show marked improvement at the start of the season, look for Sanchez’s name in trade rumors, especially so the Yankees don’t have to entertain a non-tender again at the end of the season.