There are plenty of ways that free agency could go wrong for the New York Yankees in 2021, especially considering that even when it seems to have gone right, we’ll usually quickly find out we’ve been sold a lemon.
There’s always something wrong with our targets, and when there’s not, MLB will create something wrong, like their effective quest to upend Gerrit Cole’s life midway through the ’21 season with no warning (and without any salary relief!).
So, what’ll it be this year? $300 million for Corey Seager, but then the team forgets it prints money and eventually decides it’s either Seager or Judge long-term? $300 mil for Seager, but he never hits in the postseason like it’s 2020 ever again? Can’t swing a Matt Olson trade, but another contender does and profits? Extremely obvious targets like Charlie Morton, Joc Pederson and Michael Brantley end up with other contenders in the World Series after the Yankees passed on ’em in favor of some things that would’ve made them look smart (Corey Kluber) but backfired?
The possibilities are endless! The possibilities are embarrassing!
The latest editions of the Seager rumors (10-12 years with that cost?) seem to suggest New York is not going to let anything hold them back from gaining his services, nor do they care about potential future ramifications.
But whether they outwardly care about seven years from now or not, there are still a few clear ways they could get screwed by contract decisions this offseason — whether it’s decisions they make, or decisions that make the world around them more difficult to live in.
After all, if you’re signing players to extended contracts … you have to find room for them on your roster, even if the regress and even if the money doesn’t matter. Think about how nervous you are about DJ LeMahieu’s future right now, then think about other ways that feeling could eventually return.
Like, for instance …
These 3 free agency moves would be Yankees nightmares.
3. Out-Bidding No One for 5 Years of Anthony Rizzo
Anthony Rizzo would be a good fit on the 2022 Yankees. He would prevent the awkwardness of “DJ LeMahieu, First Baseman”. He would be a 20-homer-hitting veteran leader with a slick glove. We all loved his time in pinstripes, except for the post-COVID haze that seemed to cast a pall over him.
He’ll likely be very effective in 2023, too. But 2025? ’26? The Yankees shouldn’t rush to commit additional years to Rizzo just because his cousin said he really enjoyed playing close to home.
They also shouldn’t sprint to outbid the Chicago Cubs’ reported five-year, $75 million offer before ever engaging the Oakland A’s on Matt Olson.
Rizzo was a solid-if-unspectacular 31-year-old Yankee last year who wound up with nearly the same numbers in pinstripes he posted in Chicago:
- Rizzo with the 2021 Cubs: 92 games, .248/.346/.446 with a 112 OPS+
- Rizzo with the 2021 Yankees: 49 games, .249/.340/.428 with a 110 OPS+ and 5,389 foul home runs (estimated)
We’d certainly take that, or something like it, for the next two or three seasons, as long as his contributions become slightly de-prioritized. But, like all those recently-floating takes about Joey Gallo hitting seventh and prospering, something has to actually show hints of happening before we take it seriously.
Rizzo had never posted a full-season OPS+ below 124 since his 2013 age-23 season until he did it in 2021. We’d like a full-fledged bounce back, but it certainly can’t be counted on, and it’s far more likely things move slightly downhill from here. Two or three years of this level of production can be carried on a winning team. Five years of commitment could get really confusing. And who, exactly, is trying to cut the Yankees in line here anyway?