Add another one to our favorite list! “Former New York Yankees Targets Who Eventually Moved Elsewhere, Reestablished Themselves, and Starred.” Such a fun list of guys!
Not to be confused with our ongoing list of ideal targets who the team simply … never pursued, for one reason or another. Charlie Morton. Michael Brantley. That’s a two-man list, and we’re going to continue screaming about it for quite a while.
No, this list includes players like Bryce Harper, Patrick Corbin and Manny Machado, all of whom were assumed to be Yankees for so long that some of us don’t even acknowledge them as Phillies, Nationals and Padres. Giancarlo Stanton’s addition presumably took them out of the Harper and Machado bidding. Gerrit Cole, in the future, seemingly blocked the Corbin deal.
But what, exactly, stopped the Yankees from signing patient slugger Kyle Schwarber this winter after Brian Cashman basically outright begged for him for several years? Based on the alignment they actually ran out on the field, it obviously wasn’t defense.
Cashman’s interest in Schwarber was so well known from 2018-2020 that connections to the Yankees were more prevalent than “Andújar and Frazier for Your Best Player?” trade jokes from the most hilarious rival fans on the internet.
So far this offseason, we’ve heard rumors about the Brewers finally acting on their long-standing interest, or Kevin Long and the Phillies exploiting that lasting relationship. Why not the Yankees? Has that ship finally sailed as an offseason full of bigger needs approaches?
Have the Yankees given up on Kyle Schwarber?
This offseason, when the penny-pinching Cubs non-tendered Schwarber, he was thought of as a regressing slugger with plus-plus patience, but the defensive acumen of a spongecake. But Cashman reportedly still believed in a bounce back … a belief that was vindicated when he went off for 25 bombs with the Nationals, then was flipped to the Red Sox and hit .291 with a .435 OBP and 154 OPS+ in 41 games.
Offense was down across the game for large portions of this year, especially in the Bronx, where a previously-fearsome lineup was bitten by the de-juiced ball and 700 different forms of regression. Think the Yankees couldn’t have used an intangible-heavy power bat like Schwarber? Hell, the Sox had a good lineup already, and they liked his bat so much they were willing to shrug off his defense entirely and teach him an all-new position of first base.
Did they teach him anything? Entirely unclear. Did he play first base in honest-to-God postseason games? Also, yes.
So, how far did Schwarber’s price really fly in 2021, despite the propensity for high-exit-velo homers? After all, he’s still position-less. He’s turning 29. He’s boom-or-bust (though he’s only … really busted during the 60-game sprint in 2020, which is pretty meaningless).
If the Yankees really wanted to, couldn’t they give him a raise and go two years, $28 million? They could go Joey Gallo-Aaron Judge-Giancarlo Stanton more often than not, leaving Schwarber to DH. They could even try him at (gasp) first base if they trade Luke Voit and decline to sign Anthony Rizzo. They could … trade Gallo?
The possibilities are endless (well, no, there are three) if you don’t care about his glove, something the near-American League champions clearly didn’t care about. So will Cash’s crush return, or has it been extinguished after Schwarber actually showed the kind of promise he’d long predicted in an AL pennant race?