The 2022 New York Yankees are incomplete — or, at least, they’d better be.
The 2021 Yankees were too, of course, and the roster they’re going to end the lockout with will be even worse than the one that wrapped last season at Fenway Park, looking befuddled at the vapor trails of two Giancarlo Stanton non-home runs that could’ve changed everything.
Sure, they’ll have a healthy DJ LeMahieu when the curtain rises on ’22 and will be without Andrew Velazquez at short. They also won’t have Anthony Rizzo at first, though, who might’ve been the team’s third-best hitter by default when they entered the postseason. Jameson Taillon won’t be active on Opening Day, either, unless it gets pushed all the way to June because of stagnant MLB-MLBPA talks.
And, to make matters worse, the Yankees haven’t even replaced the unsatisfactory Velazquez with anything better! Even Tyler Wade’s gone, DFA’d and now in Anaheim, to save space on the 40-man roster for Rule 5-eligibles who had to be protected … for a draft that never happened.
Yes, the Yankees ended 2021 without a shortstop, and are starting 2022 with the hole somehow deeper than ever before.
Not to mention the middle of the rotation, the middle of the bullpen, the outfield, the fact that DJ LeMahieu no longer has a position in Year 2 of a six-year deal, the Gary Sánchez Conundrum, Sticky Stuff … yeah, it’d be nice to see transactions legalized once again. Be cool, Rob Manfred. Just one time.
The Yanks will not be signing Carlos Correa — especially not after the superstar hired Scott Boras this week to lay waste to desperate teams’ finances. They likely won’t be singing Trevor Story, either, though a fan can still dream about a price drop there.
A Matt Olson/Oakland A’s pitcher trade feels so clearly foretold that we’re surprised it actually didn’t happen pre-lockout. If it falls apart, Anthony Rizzo will be back … or, at least, he’d better be.
So … do the Yankees have some tricks up their sleeve? Can they still surprise us? Keep your eyes on these three deals that could materialize, and feel right in line with New York’s oddly silent offseason.
3 surprise trades Yankees can make before 2022 MLB season
3. Gio Urshela to Seattle
Mariners legend Kyle Seager, who finished out his contract in Seattle this past fall by doffing his cap to the crowd, eliminated from postseason play at the wire just a few hours after it seemed like they’d really have a shot, will need to be replaced at third base in 2022.
Not because he priced himself out with a 30-homer farewell to Seattle, but because he opted to retire rather than spend time with another franchise.
Honorable, but it leaves a borderline playoff team with Abraham Toro starting at third with very little backing behind him. It’s a more versatile infield than it was at the tail end of last season after they acquired Adam Frazier to play second, but it’s still incomplete.
Perhaps the Yankees can help, especially if they’re bigger believers in DJ LeMahieu at third, STOPGAP at short, Gleyber Torres at second, and a star at first. Maybe LeMahieu’s contract makes it so they have to prefer that.
Gio Urshela, under control through 2023, has given his heart and soul to this Yankees team as recently as Game 162 last year when he sprinted headlong into the dugout to retire the side against the Rays. He doesn’t have a defined role moving forward if Gleyber Torres isn’t a shortstop and DJ LeMahieu isn’t a second baseman, however, and now that he’s on the wrong side of 30, his defense may start to recede at the same rate as his offense has in the absence of Rob Manfred’s Rocket Balls (96 OPS+, 0.6 WAR last year).
Urshela might not net the Yankees a massive return, but the idea of trading him still seems more appealing than shifting him over to shortstop — hey, at least the stopgap should be at their natural position, in our humble opinion.
Maybe the Yankees get erratic and undersized (but intriguing) left-hander Adam Macko, Seattle’s No. 12 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, and someone who’s been mocked to the Yanks in the past. Toss in another back-end top 30 guy (Jonatan Clase, an outfielder who’s three years away?), and Urshela can join a west coast contender’s unsettled infield mix after doing the same on the east coast.