Nobody knows when the MLB lockout is going to end, but New York Yankees fans know general manager Brian Cashman better have a plan for when it does because he’s in a tough spot with so many other contenders ready to pounce once transactions are permitted again.
Even in regard to lesser free agency buzz, the Bombers apparently have stiff competition from division rivals. Per Sean McAdam of the Boston Sports Journal, the Yankees, Red Sox and Blue Jays are among the suitors for star Japanese outfielder Seiya Suzuki, who was posted by his club about 10 days before the lockout but was never signed.
As a result, his 30-day posting window was paused by the work stoppage, allowing what feels like more teams to shift their attention since there wasn’t a whole lot of chatter surrounding his potential move to MLB.
That’s now seemingly created a crowded market. The once-reported three- to five-year contract in the $7-$10 million range for Suzuki may be no longer if the demand is increasing, which, once again, is bad news for the cost-conscious Yankees.
New York badly needs outfield help, which we know kind of sounds ridiculous, but when you realize this team has no true starting center fielder (Aaron Hicks is no longer a suitable option, sorry) and Joey Gallo is playing out of position in left, the presence of a versatile defense with a capable bat could make all the difference.
That’s especially why the Yankees can’t let the Red Sox capitalize here, since Boston has some outfield issues of their own after trading Hunter Renfroe and re-acquiring Jackie Bradley Jr., who is coming off the worst offensive campaign of his career.
If the Yankees are serious about Seiya Suzuki, then need to go all out.
Suzuki has experience playing all three outfield spots as well as first base, shortstop and third base, but has solely been on outfield duty since 2015, effectively fielding all three spots (but primarily center field). At the very least, he can play center field in 2022 (and 2023?) and perhaps shift to left once Gallo is gone, if need be.
What’s even more encouraging is his bat. He’s coming off a career season in 2021 with the Hiroshima Carp, having slashed .317/.433/.636 with 77 runs scored, 38 homers, 88 RBI and nine stolen bases. He struck out just 89 times in 439 at-bats. Contact bat, power bat, low-strikeout bat. The only “down side” is that he’s a righty. But that shouldn’t be as big of a problem heading into 2022.
The important thing here remains keeping Suzuki away from rivals like the Red Sox and Blue Jays. We’re truly not sure why the Jays are in this race with George Springer, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Randal Grichuk and Teoscar Hernandez on the roster, but the Sox have only Bradley Jr., Kiké Hernandez, Alex Verdugo and Jarran Duran. That’s not exactly a suitable cast for the major league level.
He’s also following the Sox on Instagram, and no other teams. At the very least, he wanted to learn more about them.
If the Yankees can strike while the iron’s hot, it’ll be a win-win. They’ll fill a need in a cost-effective manner and steal a target from their rivals, all of whom are on New York’s heels.