The 2023 New York Yankees used a great deal of their offseason budget to bring back Aaron Judge and name him captain, outbidding the Giants for his services once the right fielder’s intentions had become clear.
Don’t sell this offseason short, though. Signing Judge for life was a monumental task and never a given, based on the way the Steinbrenner front office has operated for the past decade-plus, nickel-and-diming fan favorites from Dellin Betances to Gleyber Torres this past weekend.
Add in a team-friendly Anthony Rizzo deal (that lines up with Munetaka Murakami’s eventual posting), a Tommy Kahnle reunion in the bullpen, and the much-needed signing of Carlos Rodón, and the 2023 Yankees look secure and more well-rounded than last year’s outfit (and add more Oswald Peraza/Oswaldo Cabrera/Anthony Volpe, too).
Still, this team is … incomplete. They need a left fielder. They could use a third baseman/utility figure with more pop and consistency than Josh Donaldson has to offer. Their bullpen could always use reinforcements. Following the Frankie Montas injury update that dropped Saturday, it’s overkill to say the team needs another starter, but … cheap swingman depth would be nice.
As the offseason approaches pitchers and catchers reporting (seriously), the Yankees would’ve been wise to sign these four relatively low-cost free agent deals.
4 2022-23 MLB free agents Yankees should’ve signed at their prices
4. Brandon Drury
Brandon Drury, one of the least-beloved former Yankees (whose previously-undiagnosed vision issues sank his career in the Bronx), would’ve been a preferred option to Josh Donaldson.
If DJ LeMahieu is going to enter spring training perfectly healthy, as is rumored, and has a chance to supplant Donaldson in the starting lineup, then that’s fantastic. But if LeMahieu’s going to remain a question mark, Donaldson is going to keep his stranglehold on the spot, and Torres is going to be on tenterhooks, potentially sacrificed for pitching (please don’t), then Drury’s two-year, $17 million deal seems completely in rhythm with the Yankees’ parameters.
Drury, now a Los Angeles Angel (of Anaheim, don’t forget it), broke out with a 2.6-WAR season with a 122 OPS+ in 2022, moving from the Reds to the Padres at the deadline (and plummeting in value once he got to Ocean Beach, sadly).
The 30-year-old isn’t make-or-break for the Yankees’ plans, which some people sold him as when he stayed on the west coast last month. That said, the AAV would’ve been a drop in the bucket, especially if the team had been able to clear even a third of Donaldson’s salary.