Yankees should intensify contract extension talks with Harrison Bader
An argument can be made for extending Harrison Bader the qualifying offer this offseason rather than paying him for multiple years, but there's inherent risk in letting a player dangle. The QO has stopped teams from surrendering draft picks before, but if Bader has a good enough year, it won't be much of a deterrant. Plus, the Yankees have been loath to use it.
When the Yankees extended the injury-prone Hicks back in 2019, they did so because they didn't foresee good things on the center field market in the years to come, and wanted to retain a top-10 name at a bargain. The logic was somewhat sound. Unfortunately, the logic didn't account for Tommy John surgery and a wrist sheath tear.
Luckily, this time around, it won't take seven years to convince Bader to forego free agency; Bader is hitting free agency this offseason regardless, and shouldn't expect more than a three- or four-year deal. With minimal commitment necessary to re-up a player who's been a perfect fit (and whose skills have played up in pinstripes), it should be a no-brainer for the Yankees to try to commit themselves to Bader while waiting for Jasson Dominguez and Spencer Jones to arrive.
And, remember: Neither of those prospects might be long-term center fielders. Bader not only plays center, but plays it better than almost anywhere else.
Neither the cost nor the length of a Bader deal should be prohibitive to the Yankees moving forward, and a "hometown discount" extension should pay dividends, no matter what comes out of the prospect pipeline. Locking down a second baseman or a starting pitcher now would be a mistake. Locking down a center fielder without going overboard? No-brainer.