We’ve been so lost in the Yankees‘ unwillingness to dip more than a toe into the free agent shortstop pool, and we’ve allowed ourselves to get distracted by the lowest men on the totem pole.
Andrelton Simmons? Freddy Galvis? Jose Iglesias? All pointless.
But there is a hidden way to aim higher while still allowing Corey Seager to stay in Los Angeles, as Carlos Correa shares a plate of eggs with his ex-manager in Detroit.
The trade market is the only place where the supposed “stopgaps” are actually palatable. If Brian Cashman actually explores some hidden assets on some of the league’s most middling teams, he can actually convince us to put the furniture down and turn away from the open window.
Well … what about the Kansas City Royals? Not only does KC have two intriguing shortstop types in Adalberto Mondesi and Nicky Lopez, but they also have to make room for Bobby Witt Jr., potentially baseball’s top prospect.
Unlike Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza, he seems to be fully ready for Opening Day.
When choosing between Mondesi and Lopez, we’d rather surrender assets for the more proven commodity. Mondesi’s still sitting on all the power/speed upside in the world, and he’s controlled through 2023, but the “injury prone” label he’s attained is fully deserved. Conversely, we know exactly what Lopez is: a high-average slap-hitting defensive wizard with absolutely no power. And we’ll take it.
Could the Yankees and Royals match for a Nicky Lopez trade?
What would it take for the Yankees to acquire Lopez, who can easily slide to second base if Anthony Volpe is worth the hype (or could allow Volpe to comfortably slide over without the burden of the shortstop position)?
He’s under team control through 2025, so the Royals would be cutting bait from a position of power. Lopez’s bat, as singles-ful as it is, was technically above average in 2021 (102 OPS+), outpacing all the other glove-first names listed above. He also stole 22 bases and got on base at a .365 clip. He’s a genuine asset, and will cost a pretty penny.
The odd thing is, the Royals and Yankees don’t exactly match up easily. Jasson Dominguez and Volpe are off the table, and Oswald Peraza isn’t a wonderful centerpiece, considering KC’s overloaded with shortstop prospects in the first place, hence … this entire thing. The Yanks would probably have to load this package with pitching. How about Luis Gil, Hayden Wesneski, and Deivi Garcia as a lottery ticket?
If the Yankees were to acquire Lopez, they’d be getting a perfect No. 9 hitter. An upgraded Andrew Velazquez in every way. And they’d be getting him for quite a while. It’ll cost prospect capital, though not the absolute top-of-the-line guys … we think. If it does, the Yanks should probably duck out.
Oh, and did we mention that Lopez seems like an ideal clubhouse guy? Because he does.
The term “stopgap shortstop” makes us shudder, and for good reason, but there might be a way to make the most of it yet.
If Brian Cashman can pull off a cheaper commitment to an underrated star-type, that could solve the roster glut and alleviate spending worries.
Just … please, no Nick Ahmed. Get the right Nick if you’re gonna get a Nick.