Ranking Yankees’ free agents as offseason officially arrives

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Andrew Benintendi #18 of the New York Yankees (Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
Andrew Benintendi #18 of the New York Yankees (Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images) /

4. Andrew Benintendi

The Yankees are also interested in bringing back Andrew Benintendi, who played only 33 games with the team after the trade deadline due to a broken hamate bone that required surgery. He didn’t make it back in time for the postseason run, which undoubtedly affected the Yankees’ ability to be more competitive. The plan was to have Benny leading off, so when Judge’s run as the leadoff man was over, the lineup was in flux.

There’s a need in left field (and for general outfield depth anyway), so Benintendi has a good chance to return, especially after Cashman echoed that sentiment on Friday.

3. Luis Severino

Luis Severino is coming back. Cashman said the team is picking up his $15 million team option for the 2023 season. It’s a no-brainer after the right-hander went 7-3 with a 3.18 ERA, 3.70 FIP, 1.00 WHIP and 112 strikeouts in 19 starts (102 innings). He’s on here because that’s not official yet. Covering all the bases.

2. Anthony Rizzo

Anthony Rizzo is likely to opt out of his deal ($16 million player option for the 2023 season), as reported by The Athletic. No surprise. Yankees fans knew it was going to happen unless Rizzo suffered an injury or had a terrible offensive campaign.

But he provided stable defense at first and tied a career high with 32 home runs. In 130 games, he slashed .224/.338/.480 with a 131 OPS+. It was his best season since 2019. Cashman also reiterated the Yankees will be engaged with him if he opts out as the goal is to bring him back alongside his best bud …

1. Aaron Judge

Not sure you need the rundown here. Aaron Judge needs to be paid. Everybody in the world knows that. He just put together one of the 25 best offensive seasons in history and set a new AL home run record with 62 blasts. The last two years, he’s been the Yankees only constant force on both sides of the ball. He’s one of the most valuable players in the league, even when he was missing time with injuries from 2018-2020.

The “problem” is he’s entering his age-31 season and there’s a “risk” with a long-term deal. Sadly, it doesn’t matter what it takes. The Yankees can’t lose him unless they want to tear down the operation and kiss millions upon millions of dollars in revenue goodbye.

The price is going up even when he’s not playing.