With MLB’s AppleTV+ deal getting announced on Tuesday, it no longer feels like wishful thinking that the 2022 season could be set in stone relatively soon. Perhaps we’ll go a few days more … but the league doesn’t have the cojones to scuttle a big-revenue deal like that one and pull the plug on the entire season (with a few more deals reportedly in the hopper), so it’s time for the Yankees to man their battle stations.
And, lucky for us, MLB insider Jon Heyman arrived just in time on Wednesday to open our eyes to a few of the high-dollar free agents the Yankees are reportedly doing their due diligence on.
Heyman is already the main provider of hope in the Freddie Freeman chase, marking the Yankees down as “very interested” on Monday and seemingly (rhetorically) ahead of the Dodgers.
Nobody else is implying that, but he is, and we love that for him.
On Wednesday, he brought more good news as the league’s reporters went sleepless in a lobby, awaiting the end of CBA talks.
New York is not only chasing Freeman, but they’ve done their due diligence on Carlos Rodón, Yusei Kikuchi, and, yes, Carlos Correa. Cue red, blaring sirens.
Yankees requested medicals of (clears throat) Carlos Correa, Carlos Rodón, Yusei Kikuchi
It’s funny, the idea of the Yankees sticking with Anthony Volpe/Oswald Peraza and rolling with a stopgap option has become so normalized that missing out on Correa would no longer feel disappointing, but instead entirely expected. Sad to say, but it’s being part of the process that now feels strange, not being excluded from it.
But, hey, if you want to check medicals — something we’d previously heard would be a required precursor to any offer for Correa — that’d be a wise idea.
Carlos Rodón feels like both the most helpful fit and the wisest calculated risk the Yankees could take. Despite losing steam at the end of 2021, he still finished fifth in the Cy Young chase and struck out 185 men in 132.2 innings. He’s a highest-possible-upside No. 2 candidate, and the Yanks have very little existing upside among their innings-eaters. If both he and Luis Severino can combine for 200-ish innings of elite starting pitching (though perhaps not at the same time), that’d be a massive win.
The Yankees can also offer him the high-risk, high-reward Justin Verlander contract, money they clearly had in the budget earlier in the offseason.
Kikuchi? The 30-year-old struggled down the stretch as well, posting a 4.41 ERA on the year, but finally hit his stride midseason and would give New York another viable mid-rotation option to work with. He’s had plenty of suitors this offseason, so you know there’s something worthwhile in the pursuit at ~$10 million annually.
Is there a downside to adding Correa? Of course! There’s been a downside to every $350 million contract the Yankees have ever signed. With their luck, his karmic blast for 2017 will hit him the second he dons the pinstripes, like Charles Barkley in Space Jam. He’ll never deliver in the clutch again after being a godsend for the 2018-2021 Astros.
Certainly worth finding out, though, and the Yanks have taken the first step towards making that happen and adding valuable pitching depth.