The non-tender deadline is approaching fast. Didn’t realize it was the evening of Nov. 18, did you? To be honest … we didn’t either! But New York Yankees fans need to be dialed in, because there are some surprise candidates the team might cut bait with in the name of upgrading or saving money.
If owner Hal Steinbrenner is serious about upgrading elsewhere after re-signing Aaron Judge, then the Yankees will need to create some more space on the 40-man roster. They can still do that with trades — particularly with Gleyber Torres, who is set to earn ~$10 million in his second year of arbitration eligibility — but those are always tough waters to navigate when you’re the Yankees and no other team wants to make you better.
Truth be told, the front office needs to be a bit more ruthless. For example, whether you agree with the Toronto Blue Jays’ decisions or not, they just released Raimel Tapia because he was bad and then traded Teoscar Hernández to free up money and potentially improve their outfield situation. The Rays DFA’d Ryan Yarbrough. New York holds on to unproductive players/non-contributors for far too long, and it needs to stop.
If general manager Brian Cashman were to surprise us, there are a few players he could ditch early on in the offseason to paint a clearer roster picture moving forward and make it more efficient for the Yankees to build a true contender in 2023.
3 surprise non-tender candidates for the Yankees ahead of Friday’s deadline
3. Kyle Higashioka
Even though Kyle Higashioka is only projected to make $1.7 million in arbitration for the 2023 season, the Yankees, if they wanted to, could add far more pop to the catcher position on the open market.
Spend more on Willson Contreras? Probably not, but maybe. Bring in Mike Zunino or Omar Narvaez as slugging backups? Probably more likely. And those guys should barely be double the cost of Higgy, who lost his starting job to Jose Trevino, regressed a bit on defense, and, after a hot spring training, completely disappeared offensively for most of the year. He was even worse in 2021.
The only reason the Yankees might want to keep him is for continuity. He’s clearly an asset in the dugout/clubhouse and is willing to take on whatever role is asked of him (and, yes, heated up in September). At $1.7 million, you’re not going to find that elsewhere, but the Yankees could spend more for a better backup, which some might say is needed.