Remember when the New York Yankees used to be allowed to sign people? Over 90 days ago now, the practice was temporarily banned when MLB’s owners locked the league’s players out of their facilities — even though it felt like the Yankees had already informally banned free agency when they opted against participating in November, save for one Joely Rodriguez deal.
Whenever the game shakes the cobwebs off and resumes (May? June? November?), the Yankees will have to add a few names to their roster pile — after all, there are, uh, holes at first, short, center (?), the bullpen, and the rotation.
Not figurative holes, either. We’re talking legitimate emptiness. If the Yankees do not sign, say, a shortstop, they will not have a starting-caliber player at the position. Tough times.
So … the literal least they could do is make us feel good, right? Invite a few names from the past to come and play? Chuck some flyers at folks who are already beloved?
These three former Yankees we’re positing will either come extremely cheap, or should be able to be signed for bargain deals that will pay off in due time.
Apologies, of course, to the available former Bombers we disregarded in this process, but we don’t think you’d want a piece of them anyway.
JA Happ is available after one season split between the Minnesota Twins and St. Louis Cardinals, and could certainly be had for cheap after posting a 5.79 ERA in a full season (4.00 mark in the NL Central, though!). The Yankees need pitching depth, but they don’t need a regressing 39-year-old who ended his previous tenure in the Bronx on bad terms. Shocker, we know, but we’re going to pass here.
And apologies, too, to Adam Ottavino, whose Red Sox tenure was almost exactly like his Yankees seasons: great April and May, enters the circle of trust, tires as the year goes on, gives up the Stanton Bomb of the Century to wrap the final Yankees-Sox series of the year. In all seriousness, he’d be a welcome presence, but is probably still too pricey, and will seek only a slight discount from the salary the Yanks deemed to be overwhelming last winter.
These three former Bombers, though, might fit the bill a little better.
3 former Yankees Brian Cashman can still sign in free agency
3. Andrew Miller
Once Andrew Miller is done negotiating the end to this pesky little lockout, he’ll need to start negotiating his own contract for the back end of his very fruitful MLB career.
It would be difficult to see Miller signing anything longer than a one-year pact, coming off a difficult and injury-riddled 40-game season in St. Louis, his age-36 campaign.
Miller’s sweeping slider is still very much alive when he’s on, though, and his profile looks quite different these days as a potential fifth or sixth man on the bullpen totem pole. At this juncture, he’s going to walk plenty of batters (WHIPs over 1.30 in every full season since his sterling 2017), but he’s also got every intention of missing bats. Even in a very below-average 2021 truncated by numerous disappearances, he still whiffed 40 men in 36 innings pitched. In 2019, his last largely uninterrupted campaign, he dismissed 70 men in 54.2 innings.
Miller is no longer a big-ticket item, but bringing him to camp on an incentive-laden deal to compete with Michael King and Co. for some middle innings work could be a boon to the corps. It could also right something that always felt like a wrong. Miller did too much good work with the 2015-16 Yankees to wind up on the other side of things in Cleveland when the 2017 Yanks finally put it all together.
Winning Miller a ring with the Bombers would just feel … right. And speaking of emotional reunions that should happen …