2. Ian Happ (and Willson Contreras?)
We considered recommending Kyle Hendricks, but in reality, he’s just a “name you know” at this point. This team needs depth, but if I’d rather Luis Gil be getting your starts, I’m not surrendering prospect capital in order to obtain your services.
Especially not after a 4.77 ERA/4.89 FIP season.
2021 was Ian Happ’s worst season since his sophomore slump back in 2018, but with a bit of the pressure off and the expectations of him being a 120-game place-filler across the outfield, his potent power bat could be an ideal addition for a Yankees team in need of pop and versatility.
Oh, and even in that so-called “worst season” with a 102 OPS+ that barely nudged above league average, Happ still drilled 25 home runs, his career high.
Still just 27 years old, Happ is an ideal candidate to excel in a bounce back shot at playing the “Clint Frazier role” in 2022 while Frazier himself replaces him in Chicago. Though you may not recall it because the 2020 season feels like a mirage, Happ was among the most valuable outfielders in the game, earning a surprise 18th-place MVP finish. He also handled right, center, left, second and third throughout the ’21 campaign, if filling out the Yankees bench with a versatile switch-hitting masher is your thing.
Adding Willson Contreras, too, is a pipe dream after it seemed slightly possible just before the non-tender deadline when the Cubs signed Yan Gomes and Contreras tweeted airplane emojis before his final season of team control. Unfortunately, the Yankees tendered Gary Sánchez a contract that very same evening, seemingly locking him into the role.
We put the chances of adding Contreras’ slightly-upgraded bat and relative defensive prowes close to zero now, but a Happ addition still makes all the sense in the world.