Will it be a return engagement from Anthony Rizzo, who was solid if unspectacular in his second-half stint in 2021?
Will it be a superstar name like Freddie Freeman, via free agency, or Matt Olson, via trade (as long as Oswald Peraza’s not involved, apparently)?
One thing most haven’t considered yet, for whatever reason, is the Yankees opting to get funky with it.
They’re going to get funky and weird at shortstop, after all. They plan to get funky in the rotation every single year. So why wouldn’t they go off the board in the first base chase — while again ignoring Voit, who’s right here?
With all caveats in mind, we attempted to round up any and all first base possibilities that haven’t been accounted for yet — within reason. DJ LeMahieu just … can’t start the year there. As intrigued as we’d be by absorbing Joey Votto’s contract, we don’t think that’s under consideration.
Apologies to Evan White of the Mariners, who’s been so brutal in his short MLB career that we can’t justify adding him as an offseason solution of any kind. Perhaps, in a world where Voit stays, he’s added to the depth chart, but there’s zero indication a contending team could rely on him in any way.
Additional apologies to Carlos Santana of the Kansas City Royals, who I really wanted to argue was very good but was, in fact, bad last season and would be a poor fit defensively. There’s no reason whatsoever to deprioritize Voit and help clear the Royals’ path for Nick Pratto at this point. But I was trying to be nice.
3 off-the-board first base options for the Yankees in 2022
3. Pavin Smith
No, the Yankees shouldn’t dump Voit, add Pavin Smith, and call it an offseason. But how would you feel about keeping both on board?
OK, understood, not great, but allow me to make the sale.
Smith, just 26 years old, had a roughly league-average season with the bat in 2021, hitting .267 from the left side with a .328 OBP, 11 bombs, and 49 RBI in 145 games.
While those numbers are somewhat underwhelming, they show decent potential for a former first-round pick in his first full season in a poor-performing lineup down in the desert — at least, they’re certainly more appealing than what his fellow D-Backs first base trade option, Christian Walker, put up at the age of 30 (88 OPS+).
Smith, who can also serve as the team’s fourth/fifth outfielder (in right), presents underlying numbers that could indicate a positive trend. He finished in the red in hard-hit percentage (63rd percentile), maximum exit velocity (76th), xBA (57th), whiff percentage (90th), K percentage (63rd) and chase rate (75th). In other words, he rarely chases, doesn’t get himself out, doesn’t miss fastballs down the pike (a Yankees bugaboo), and has room to grow.
Would swiping Smith be as valuable to the Yankees as a Matt Olson trade? Hell no. Surrendering more assets for Olson makes all the sense in the world.
But if the Yankees go off the board, they just might go way off and try to unlock this ex-first-rounder’s potential to hit strikes hard, as Dillon Lawson always says.