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3 Yankees position battles that could result in trades before 2022 season

BUFFALO, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 07: Aaron Hicks #31 of the New York Yankees and teammate Luke Voit #59 celebrate after Voit hit a one run home run during the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Sahlen Field on September 07, 2020 in Buffalo, New York. The Blue Jays are the home team and are playing their home games in Buffalo due to the Canadian government’s policy on coronavirus (COVID-19). (Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images)
BUFFALO, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 07: Aaron Hicks #31 of the New York Yankees and teammate Luke Voit #59 celebrate after Voit hit a one run home run during the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Sahlen Field on September 07, 2020 in Buffalo, New York. The Blue Jays are the home team and are playing their home games in Buffalo due to the Canadian government’s policy on coronavirus (COVID-19). (Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images) /
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Aroldis Chapman #54 of the New York Yankees (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Aroldis Chapman #54 of the New York Yankees (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

1. Aroldis Chapman vs Jonathan Loaisiga

Plenty of teams looking to leap into contention need a closer, and the Yankees have two — at least, if we’re to assume Jonathan Loaisiga’s breakout 2021 is here to stay. If New York believes the young right-hander is suited for the ninth inning, then why bother holding onto Aroldis Chapman, who’s set to make $16 million in the final year of his deal?

There is one problem, though. The genius Yankees front office, AFTER Chapman smiled on the mound as he watched Jose Altuve trot the bases in that humiliating ALCS Game 6, decided to extend the veteran AND give him a full no-trade clause. Beyond anyone’s comprehension.

Chapman would have to approve of any trade, which complicates things, but perhaps a fresh start on another contender would appeal to the left-hander, who’s largely been great as a Yankee but has failed to deliver any signature moments (and potentially reversed a few, in fact).

This all obviously hinges on Loaisiga looking good this spring. Injuries happen, especially with pitchers, so the Yankees need to be absolutely sure he’s atop his game to take over the closer role. Maybe it will allow the Yankees to get all of Chapman’s $16 million off the books. At the very least, maybe they eat $4 million of that and send him packing, freeing up $12 million under the CBT.

Chapman’s last two seasons (74 total games) have arguably been the worst of his career (even though he’s still been really good as far as closers go). But it’s just not enough. The highs aren’t nearly high enough to justify the back-breaking lows that leave you searching for reasons why you stay up past 11 p.m. to watch what should’ve been an easy win get blown in spectacular fashion.

The Yankees can get similar production at a cheaper price. Aren’t they trying to imitate the Rays? Isn’t this all part of the plan? Cashman can figure out a way to add two more capable late-inning relievers to this bullpen by trading spare parts. If there’s a window to trade Chapman, it needs to be thoroughly explored. Time to move on with the next era of Yankees baseball.