Whether or not the New York Yankees reach the playoffs, the club will need to address certain deficiencies in its roster for 2022.
The position holes they will want to fill include catcher, starting and relief pitching, and the outfield (left field and center). The team will probably want to acquire a new shortstop during the offseason as well.
The Yanks are likely to explore the high end of the free-agent market, with shortstop being a high priority (e.g., Marcus Semien or Carlos Correa). If the Bronx Bombers fail to land the person they desire at a fair price at shortstop, they could look for a short-term fill-in for Anthony Volpe via free agency or trade — or they could do with those whom they already have (Tyler Wade, Andrew Velazquez, and Gio Urshela) to buy time until Volpe is ready.
In addition to several established Yankee players who could be included in trades, the Boys in Pinstripes have a strong group of prospects to create attractive trade packages. Given the Yanks’ needed areas of improvement, who should the Bombers pursue in the trade market?
Here are four players on other teams who have performed well, have yet to reach their ceiling, and might be able to be acquired through trades without giving up an arm and a leg.
The Yankees should pursue these 4 strategic trades.
4. Cubs C Willson Contreras
Unfortunately, very few quality catchers are hitting free agency this winter or are expected to be available for trades at a reasonable cost. However, the Chicago Cubs, who are rebuilding their roster, might be willing to part with catcher Willson Contreras during this offseason. Contreras will be entering his age-30 season next year.
Like Gary Sanchez, he is in his third and final year of arbitration, and this would be a good year for the Cubs to trade him if the team wishes to receive players of value in return. Since the Cubs are in a rebuilding mode, they might be interested in some of the Yanks’ prospects along with an established player. Contreras earned slightly more money than Sanchez ($6.35 million) in 2021.
Contreras is a two-time All-Star and has played in the postseason, including the 2016 World Series, which the Cubbies won. Batting from the right side, he has produced a slash line of .225/.330/.409 in 2021, including 18 home runs and 43 RBI. Contreras has a .752 OPS over the last two seasons, and, unlike Sanchez, he is also a solid defensive catcher (.993 fielding and only 3 passed balls in 2021). His WAR is 3.5 this year, which is significantly better than Sanchez’s WAR of 0.9.
Good backstops who can play well on both sides of the ball are scarce. Contreras would be a considerable upgrade at catcher for the Yanks. He would help the team win more games.