If you polled New York Yankees fans and asked what moves the team should make before the 2022 season, you might get a number of different answers, but one aspect remains constant: everyone agrees something significant needs to happen.
So far, we’re somewhat being led in that direction. Many have accepted that there probably won’t be a superstar shortstop upgrade, but perhaps we can look forward to a few signings and trades that address first base, third base, the outfield and starting rotation.
Another encouraging layer here is that some insiders truly believe the Yankees might actually make blockbuster-esque transactions when the lockout is lifted (or are at least acknowledging they need to happen in order to avoid throwing away the 2022 season).
MLB insider Jim Bowden is of that crowd, and his latest piece in The Athletic (subscription required) takes a look at what he thinks the first move every AL team should make once a new collective bargaining agreement is signed.
Either Bowden thinks the Yankees are a lot bolder than they are, or he feels this is the best way for them to plug as many holes as possible by spending the least amount of money.
He suggested a monster trade with the Oakland Athletics, and it’s even more expanded than the ones that were previously suggested throughout the offseason.
Can the Yankees pull off this blockbuster trade with the Athletics?
"“First move they should make post-lockout: Acquire 1B Matt Olson, CF Ramón Laureano and RHP Chris Bassitt in trade with A’s“The deal would have to be built around one of the Yankees’ top three shortstop prospects (Anthony Volpe, Oswald Peraza, Trey Sweeney), along with a top pitching, outfield and catching prospect. A package of five of their top 25 prospects is probably what it would take to make a game-changing trade like this. The Yankees could also substitute third baseman Matt Chapman for Olson, then re-sign first baseman Anthony Rizzo if they thought that was a better fit.”"
Goodness! We’ve got one problem right off the bat, though. According to previous reports, the Yankees were unwilling to include one of Anthony Volpe or Oswald Peraza in trade talks with the A’s. That was believed to be in a deal for Olson, however, and this expanded package with Laureano and Bassitt could change Brian Cashman’s mind (if those reports were true). Either way, a deal for Olson or an expanded package like this will likely have to include Peraza — that’s just the reality of the situation.
Another issue, though? Laureano is coming off a PED suspension. While that could help the Yankees acquire him at a discount, inheriting such a risk might not be of interest to the front office. Also, what do you do with Aaron Hicks at that point? Laureano is under club control for three more seasons while Hicks is earning $10 million annually through 2025. That’s not too concerning, however, because Laureano is making $2.8 million next year and this was the same discussion fans were having when it was believed the Yankees were going to sign Starling Marte for $18 million per year.
OK, one more issue. That’s it, we swear. Bowden suggesting that this will cost the Yankees only one of their top shortstop prospects and four other top-25 prospects sort of feels light. We’re talking about the rebuilding A’s shipping off three All-Star-caliber players, two of whom are controllable beyond 2022. We’d venture to say this will cost at least three top-10 prospects, two top-15s, and another top-25. Maybe we’re wrong, but this is a roster-altering trade and the A’s aren’t going to treat it any less.
If the Yankees are willing to pay up and make the necessary in-house adjustments to make this happen, then there’s obviously no issue here. They’d only be inheriting ~$24 million in salary, which would be less than one year of Freddie Freeman or Carlos Correa. It’d be close to what Trevor Story is probably looking for, too.
But the Yankees need to pick a side. Are they willing to blow past the luxury tax or are they willing to part with some of their best young talent without being unreasonably stingy? It’s one or the other, because there’s no viable alternative.