The New York Yankees, uh, have some work to do during the 2022-23 offseason, which involves battling back a horde of Aaron Judge-related rumors about his dissatisfaction, likes and dislikes, and how he’s worried the pinstripes might hide his true physique as he ages.
Bringing back Judge — or the decision to let him walk — will color this entire offseason for better or worse. Brian Cashman and Aaron Boone are expected to lead it. Odds are, it’ll either feel like a continuation of the 2022 team (Judge + bargain replacements/trade steals) or a complete reboot if Judge leaves.
Not a rebuild. A reboot. The Yankees don’t tank. They just compete differently.
Whether a Judge extension comes to fruition or not, the Yankees will absolutely be all over the trade market in a few weeks. For better or worse, dealing is what they do most often, while shirking expensive commitments to the likes of Trea Turner and Carlos Correa. After all, why pay Turner when you can pay two relievers and a 37-year-old the same amount of money?
The Yankees will be scouring the trade market, as they always do, and will be in the mix for all the names you’ve already heard about, from Pablo Lopez (watch out, Gleyber!) to Sean Murphy to Shohei Oh–sorry, sorry, couldn’t get through that one with a straight face.
These three under-the-radar names should be considered, too, at positions of need. All three should be varying degrees of available.
Yankees should consider these 3 surprise trade targets this offseason
3. Jake Cronenworth, San Diego Padres
The two-time All-Star affectionately known as “Rake” Cronenworth could hypothetically move from one crowded infield picture to another.
As the Padres try to discern what to do with Fernando Tatis Jr. and Ha-seong Kim, dealing for Cronenworth might end up the cost-effective alternative to some bizarre and misshapen Tatis Jr. trade, something San Diego will probably pursue, but which sounds impossible.
At first blush, you’d think the Yankees wouldn’t have much room in their overstuffed infield to fit Cronenworth in, but you’d also be wrong once you whittled down New York’s infield depth chart to “trustworthy” vs. “not trustworthy.” Will Josh Donaldson absolutely be a Yankee next season? Will Gleyber Torres still be on the roster, or will he be dealt? Will DJ LeMahieu return to full strength? Will Anthony Rizzo be back? Or Isiah Kiner-Falefa? Beyond the rookies, it seems everyone’s fair game. Cronenworth will be able to find reps in the Bronx for sure.
An ex-Ray under control through 2025, Cronenworth is coming off 122 and 113 OPS+ marks in his first two full seasons in the bigs. Add in the ability to play multiple positions and deliver under pressure (.438 average/1.063 OPS against the Dodgers in the 2022 NLDS), and the Padres’ potential squeeze could be the Yankees’ gain, in exchange for Trey Sweeney and Co.
Of course, there’s always Tatis Jr., too…