If we’re to assume the New York Yankees are going to spend when the lockout ends, we can safely guess it won’t be on the shortstop position based on the hoarding they’ve done in their farm system in addition to the rave reviews for Anthony Volpe.
The organization doesn’t want another talent blocking Volpe or one of the others (Oswald Peraza, Oswaldo Cabrera?) if and when their time comes. Frustrating … but somewhat understandable.
What about spending on other positions, though? Actually, just one position, since there aren’t any overly desirable starting rotation, center field or catching targets. We’re thinking first base. We’re thinking Freddie Freeman, who would solve numerous issues for the Bombers.
There was talk the Yankees were in contact with the Atlanta Braves legend before the lockout, but it’s unclear how far any conversations actually got since it’s still expected the World Series champ re-signs.
But if you’re to ask ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez, an MLB insider, about the Yankees’ chances of actually landing the five-time All-Star … he thinks they’re right behind the Braves.
In an ESPN+ article (subscription required), Gonzalez ranked the five likeliest destinations for Freeman and the Bombers sat at No. 2.
Are the Yankees a true threat to land Freddie Freeman in free agency?
Here’s what Gonzalez wrote:
"“The Yankees reportedly seek a much cheaper stopgap at shortstop who can hold the down position until either Anthony Volpe or Oswald Peraza are ready to take over. Freeman helps to justify that. His signing would put the Yankees’ payroll at a whopping $240 million-plus in 2022, approaching New York Mets territory. But a lot of players are scheduled to come off the books next offseason, including Joey Gallo, Aroldis Chapman, Zack Britton, Luis Severino, Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge, the latter of whom they would likely want to lock up with an extension. Judge or not, the Yankees can certainly make a Freeman signing work within their budget.”"
We hadn’t entirely been viewing the Yankees’ spending through that lens. If the Yankees can get a distinct advantage at a position other than shortstop, we can at least hold out hope that they’ll get in a bidding war to make it happen. Freeman represents that exact kind of acquisition.
Plus, this is likely going to be a six-year contract, which won’t exactly hamstring the Yankees financially (does anything?). With all that money coming off the books after 2022, plus a number of trade candidates in Luke Voit, Miguel Andújar, Domingo Germán and others (they can clear another ~$10 million before the start of 2022), there’s a lane for the organization to spend and then reset in a way before 2023.
Freeman is reportedly seeking a six-year, $180 million contract, which would add a second $30 million salary to the books for the Yanks. But then they have a lefty slugging Gold Glove first baseman with plenty of prime ball ahead of him.
Assuming the Yankees are prepared to replace the countless free agents expected to skip town after next year, overpaying to secure arguably the best first baseman in the sport and putting him alongside core pieces and other cost-effective options/top prospects could provide a successful blueprint for the next era of Bomber baseball.