The New York Yankees don’t appear to be shopping in the bargain bin this offseason — though who knows when the purchasing period of this particular winter will actually begin.
Trades? Yeah, those could come as soon as this week. Nov. 19 is the deadline to add minor-leaguers to your 40-man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 draft, so Brian Cashman might want to trade away a few eligible pieces ASAP to make that decision easier.
But signings … might take a while.
What we know so far, after Day 1 of the GM meetings, is that Cashman’s got a “little latitude” from Hal Steinbrenner in terms of his upcoming payroll.
While everyone else has already assigned Justin Verlander to a portion of that payroll, Cashman made it clear this week that he’s got slightly different priorities — meaning one current Yankees pain point might not be entitled to a starting job next season.
At the very least, he’s going to have some insurance.
Yankees looking for Aaron Hicks’ replacement in CF?
Sure. Pitching’s on the table. Always is. The Yankees will no doubt be looking for depth starters and potential steals in trades, and will also be discussing Verlander closely, as the latest reports indicate.
But adding “center field” to the priorities list alongside shortstop — which is the most glaring hole this team has faced at any position for a long time — proves Aaron Hicks will not be waltzing back into his old starting gig after he returns from wrist surgery.
Since signing a team-friendly contract extension prior to the 2019 season (go, team!), Hicks has played in: 59 of a possible 162 games in ’19, 54/60 in 2020 (nice) and 32/162 in 2021. His latest malady, a tear of the wrist sheath, could end up sapping a significant amount of his 25-homer power. Combine that with the after-effects of Tommy John surgery, a procedure he underwent in 2019 that likely sapped some of his legendary arm strength, and you have something well below a sure thing entering this season, his age-32 campaign.
MLB insider Jon Heyman echoed Cashman’s thoughts this week, too, though we’re not exactly sure who the “three guys” who can play center that he cited … are.
Hicks … Clint Frazier … Estevan Florial? Yeah, the Yankees are going to have to get deeper at the position.
Whether that means Starling Marte, as he climbs up the aging curve, or a trade/patchwork option (Kevin Pillar?) is anyone’s guess. Hopefully, if the Yanks plan to shop in the deep end with Seager/Correa, they can make room for a big name up the middle in center, too.