The New York Yankees are only getting stronger as the 2021 season progresses, but that doesn’t mean you can count them out of the offseason’s free agency cycle, especially after the team reset the luxury tax threshold prior to this season.
And what’s more fun than swiping some hated rivals for money alone?
The Yankees “mortgaged their future” at this year’s deadline by adding Anthony Rizzo and Joey Gallo (they didn’t, only haters think that), but a surefire way to avoid depleting prospect capital is splashing cash in the offseason — and it helps when the teams you’re competing with don’t seem to have the same cash to splash.
We’re not sure what’s up with the Red Sox these days, but “super exec” Chaim Bloom was clearly hired with the directive to cut payroll, hence his immediate Mookie Betts trade and refusal to “add” to a team at this year’s deadline that he didn’t quite believe in. They might spend some coin this offseason — Kris Bryant, anyone? — but then again, they absolutely might not.
The Astros? Carlos Correa’s already told the gathered media that he won’t be returning to Houston, and hopes to win one more ring before he departs, so that’s nice if you’re all in on that team getting worse.
The Mets? They’ll do their usual Steve Cohen dance: pretend to be on the verge of signing the top two free agents, instead sign the ninth- and 12th-best options, then flaunt their wares like they just assembled the Miami Heat Big 3.
The Blue Jays will spend. They always spend. They’re also always a step or two behind. It’s weird.
Given their inherent advantages and MLB needs, expect the Yankees to plug a few holes this offseason — and there are a few recent rivals available who’d be extra fun to add for narrative purposes.
3 Yankees rivals the Bronx Bombers should pursue in free agency.
3. Marcus Semien
For some reason, the baseball world let Marcus Semien take a one-year pillow contract with the Blue Jays this offseason, and he’s developed into one of the best-hitting shortstops in baseball.
We should be thanking the good lord above they didn’t fall ass-backwards into Michael Brantley, too. Almost happened.
With plenty of shortstops in the Yankees’ pipeline, it might make more sense to commit three or so years to the versatile Semien, instead of giving Trevor Story seven seasons.
In three seasons since 2018, the 30-year-old Semien has been an MVP candidate twice and has struggled once in a 60-game campaign. We’ll let you do the math and select the outlier there. This year, he’s mashing at levels approaching his third-place MVP finish in 2019, hitting 30 dingers with a 131 OPS+, adding 13 stolen bases to his game.
Occasionally buried in Toronto’s absolutely stupid lineup, Semien’s effortless and compact swing almost makes him feel like the Michael Brantley of Infielders. Yankee fans, personally, have watched him excel repeatedly in the most annoying of scenarios this year. Down two with very little developing on offense? No problem; Semien can sock a solo dinger.
Seriously, it feels like that’s happened at least thrice in the season series.
The future of the shortstop position for the Yankees is a conversation for … well, each and every day. That future is sick! But perhaps the Yanks should think long and hard about committing short-ish-term to a rover like Semien rather than a seven-year shortstop itch.