2. Michael Brantley
Michael Brantley, pictured here spotting a Yankee fan chanting, “F*** Altuve!” into an amateur bullhorn made out of a chicken bucket, would’ve been a better fit in the Bronx back in the 2018-19 offseason, when he was first made available. But here we are.
Since then, he’s kissed a trophy and made the final out of the World Series, running the championship gamut with the Astros. Now 35 years old (36 midseason) and coming off shoulder surgery that robbed him of a good deal of the 2022 season, Brantley will be at his cheapest in free agency, and likely won’t be retained.
Do the Blue Jays swoop in here, considering they nearly signed Brantley the last time he was made available before he made a last-minute pivot home? Or is this finally the year the Yankees sign the contact specialist and say defense/surgical procedures be damned?
There’s no data yet on what Brantley will look like post-surgery, of course, but before he departed the 2022 season, he looked pretty much the same as ever. .288 average, check. .370 OBP, check. .785 OPS and a 125 OPS+ in 64 games, of course. The aging curve hasn’t hit Brantley yet, considering his game is predicated on a sweet-as-hell swing and finding gaps as often as possible.
The defense isn’t Brantley’s calling card, but there aren’t many bats more impressive. The Yankees are four years late here, but that shouldn’t stop them if the price is right.