If the New York Yankees want to sign a stopgap shortstop or trade for someone like Rangers Gold Glover Isiah Kiner-Falefa, then they’d better improve the roster significantly elsewhere.
According to Jon Heyman’s rabble rousing on Saturday afternoon, that could be a distinct possibility.
The Yankees were rumored to be focused on chasing both a first baseman and a shortstop this offseason before the whole process ran off the tracks, Matt Olson trades were done and undone, and the whole league was stopped short just as Brian Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner were inexplicably bowing out of the top of the shortstop market.
Fans were, understandably, furious. It felt like the front office was surrendering to only making marginal improvements just before a two-month dead period. It made total sense to be defeatist … and then, somehow, mid-lockout, things seemed to get worse between Freddie Freeman and the Atlanta Braves.
Nothing’s a guarantee in those conversations any longer, with the Braves reeportedly unwilling to extend themselves to a sixth year, only wanting to control the face of their franchise through age 37 instead of age 38 (yawn).
That sounds like child’s play to the Yankees, who reportedly are thinking bigger than extending a three-year offer to incumbent Anthony Rizzo. Instead, per Jon Heyman, they plan to make a run at Freeman as the door sits wide open.
Yankees Rumors: New York will chase Freddie Freeman
Sorry, but “first base isn’t their real need”?? Maybe not their primary need, but the team deemphasized Luke Voit enough in 2021 for us to know they don’t trust him moving forward.
And if you don’t trust your first baseman, what have you got? Second baseman DJ LeMahieu at the power corner? Get real.
Freeman immediately fills a massive hole and changes the complexion of the Bombers lineup, adding a lefty slugger who’s stayed remarkably healthy for the duration of his career, and could theoretically stabilize the lineup whenever Aaron Judge and/or Giancarlo Stanton are out of it.
Freeman hasn’t missed more than four games in a season since 2017. Since his first All-Star season, he’s never OPS+’d less than 132. Oh, and he’s won a Gold Glove at the game’s most crowded position (2018).
The Yankees’ main competition here might be the Los Angeles Dodgers, however, and not the Braves. Freeman is a California native, and “going home” after being forced into a new home would theoretically be a more appealing option.
However … would Freeman rather compete with Max Muncy, Cody Bellinger and others for first base/DH playing time? Or would he rather stride into a wide-open hole begging for him to fill a leadership void.
If the Yankees are intent on “making a run” at Freeman here, that must mean they’ve internally decided to give the slugger the sixth year that Atlanta has continually refused to. If that’s true, you have to consider them serious players.
And if not, the “run” wasn’t serious in the first place.