The New York Yankees sure are in a pickle, huh? Bunch of holes on the roster, bunch of free agents still available, and yet … signing them is illegal.
Like, legitimately not allowed. Not in the way where it’s usually outlawed by Hal Steinbrenner and Hal Steinbrenner alone.
Someday, some way, the MLB Lockout will end and teams across the country will have between three and five days to sign stars in order to fill out their rosters ahead of Spring Training, which could last as long as a week before the regular season begins.
It’ll suck! The carousel will be crazy! And there are plenty of big names that will have to make decisions about their future way too quickly.
So … any chance the Yankees can get involved with the top names? Maybe sign a guy the rest of the league accidentally forgot about, and then it’s, like, April 1 and all 30 teams in unison look up like, “Oh, WHOOPS, there’s Michael Conforto!”
He fell just outside of our top 10 available free agents, for what it’s worth, but we’ve ranked the 10 names we see carrying the conversation whenever the lockout is lifted. We’re also predicting contracts for all of those 10 options and, just for you, putting a percentage point on the likelihood they’ll be Yankees by the end of this frenzy.
Truth be told, most of the Yanks’ work will probably be done on the trade market and at the margins, but they’ll have at least a reasonable shot at some of these stars.
Top 10 MLB Free Agent Destinations (and Yankees’ Chances of Signing Them)
10. Kyle Schwarber
Kyle Schwarber nearly locked it down with the Philadelphia Phillies just before the transaction freeze, and we still think it’s an excellent fit if Boston is aiming slightly higher to fill their outfield gap. We’ll get to them in a bit.
While the Yankees reportedly kicked the tires on a Schwarber trade for years, only to watch the Red Sox eventually do it and spur a playoff run — Cashman’s dream, huh? — we don’t see a fit here now, especially with Joey Gallo in left and Giancarlo Stanton more often than not in the DH hole. Slight bump for Cashman’s ambitions, but minimal shot.
Contract Prediction: Philadelphia Phillies, Three Years, $60 Million
Yankees Chances: 5%
9. Carlos Rodon
Now we’re getting somewhere. Sports Illustrated, mid-lockout, flipped their prediction from the Cardinals to the Red Sox here, but Boston has already filled out their rotation with one-year bounce back candidates (Rich Hill, Michael Wacha), and also have to make a decision Tanner Houck and Garrett Whitlock, who’s now firmly in the Joba Chamberlain Zone. He should be a starter. But how can you lose him as a reliever?! Brain buster.
We think the Yankees have more of a chance here than much of the league is admitting. There was reportedly interest prior to the lockout, and New York showed a willingness to offer Justin Verlander upwards of $40 million for a two-year, post-Tommy John deal at the age of 39.
Would they be willing to toss Rodon a similar contract and add a third year? He lost steam as 2021 went on, but still finished fifth in the Cy Young race. He’d be a big risk, but a huge boon if healthy.
If you’re taking our temperature now, we’re actually going to give the Yankees this one, and say the deal works out for two of the three years it lasts.
Contract Prediction: New York Yankees, Three Years, $64 Million
Yankees Chances: 30%