In a couple weeks, general manager Brian Cashman will be hitting the phones to help re-tool the New York Yankees roster for the 2022 season.
What do we know so far? A shortstop of some sort is coming. Gleyber Torres is likely staying. More contact bats and speed are possibly on the way.
This obviously isn’t set in stone, but that much was made obvious by Cashman’s comments earlier in the week during Aaron Boone’s re-introductory press conference.
That left us wondering, though, about what will happen to the rest of the infield. If Torres stays at second base, DJ LeMahieu turns into a first/third baseman. Or maybe he’s just a first baseman if the Yankees trade Luke Voit. Maybe he’s just a third baseman if the Yankees trade Gio Urshela. He’d also help out at second, most likely, when Torres needs a breather or gets injured. Either way, he’s not going to be a full-time second baseman ever again unless Torres is moved.
The likeliest trade candidate on this team right now is Voit after the Yankees traded for Anthony Rizzo and essentially told Voit to kick rocks despite the fact he was producing at the plate.
So let’s say the Yankees trade Voit and opt to move DJ LeMahieu over to first base on a full-time-ish basis. In that case, they’ll need another utility player who’s more effective than Tyler Wade.
Should the Yankees try to out-bid the Dodgers for Chris Taylor?
This will no doubt be a bidding war of sorts should the Yankees insert themselves, especially after the Dodgers depth was exposed during the postseason. The losses of Joc Pederson and Kiké Hernandez have hit LA harder than anyone could’ve ever imagined and there’s no guarantee Corey Seager returns. Taylor won’t be their No. 1 priority, but he’ll be near top.
As for the Yankees, you could argue Taylor would be a worthwhile overpay. Since his career began on a full-time basis back in 2017, he’s logged reps at second base, shortstop, third base, left field, right field and center field, and he’s serviceable no matter where he’s asked to play.
His bat is clutch, and it’s also a mix of decent contact and power, which would be a perfect puzzle piece to solve the issue with lengthening the Yankees’ lineup. Taylor has 78 homers, 292 RBI, 50 stolen bases and a .265 average in 623 games since 2017.
For his career with runners in scoring position, he’s hitting .274 with an .826 OPS. In high-leverage situations, those numbers increase to .292 and .846. In the postseason, Taylor’s hit .245 with a .779 OPS in 60 games. He owns the Dodgers’ franchise record for most RBI (nine) in elimination games. Not bad.
However, he’ll be entering his age-31 season, and teams are typically concerned about dishing out money to non-pitchers on the wrong side of 30. Perhaps the Yankees make an exception here because Taylor’s career didn’t really truly begin until he was 26 years old and he checks a multitude of boxes should they transition LeMahieu to first base for the foreseeable future.
It’s worth giving some thought, especially with how bad the Yankees’ defense and bottom of the lineup were in 2021.