The 2023 season will be a pivotal one for a number of New York Yankees players, especially those who are in a contract year or others who have been the subject of trade rumors for quite some time. This roster could look very different by the time the trade deadline arrives -- or even before Opening Day, depending upon how aggressive the front office wants to be.
Anthony Volpe making the Opening Day roster could change a lot. Whatever happens with the left field battle between Aaron Hicks, Willie Calhoun, Rafael Ortega and Oswaldo Cabrera could change the construction to a lesser degree (as well as who replaces Harrison Bader).
But even if nothing momentous occurs, there's no denying there are Yankees players either on the hot seat or with a ton to prove as they enter contract years. It'll affect their future in New York or their value in free agency after the season.
The harsher reality is that they'll be under a microscope in the Bronx, and that's never really what you want when facing a pivotal juncture in your career.
HONORABLE MENTION: Harrison Bader. But his impact in the 2022 postseason should either convince the Yankees to extend/re-sign him without question or greatly help his market in free agency after the season. Either way, he's set himself up nicely for the upcoming season.
7 Yankees facing uncertain futures heading into 2023
Many fans were hoping Donaldson would be gone before Opening Day, but that's probably not happening. There's hope he's moved at the trade deadline, but at the very least, this is his final year in the Bronx. He has a $16 million team option for 2024 that will almost assuredly not be picked up, barring the revival of all revivals (but still, probably not).
When he was acquired last offseason, everyone was under the impression that this was a two-year, $50 million pact (which included the $8 million buyout on his 2024 option). Forget about this Yankees future, though. Donaldson is entering his age-37 season and could be nearing the end of his career if he puts up a 2022-esque stinker. His drop-off from 2021 to 2022 was unforeseen and could signal the aging curve catching up to him.
IKF's future in the Bronx is the one that could arguably have the fastest turnaround. His job is being immediately threatened by Oswald Peraza, Oswaldo Cabrera, DJ LeMahieu and Anthony Volpe. There have already been rumblings about him being traded before Opening Day to clear up the infield logjam.
With so many other teams in need of a capable utility player (that's what he is, he's not a starting shortstop), IKF's $6 million price tag for 2023 (he's a free agent after the season) is actually appealing for teams lacking infield depth. Like Donaldson, IKF ended up being a wasted trade acquisition that didn't help the team in 2022. And there's no sense in seeing things through in 2023 with how bright the future appears to be.
One of the worst trade acquisitions in recent memory. Montas arrived in the Bronx injured, made eight uninspiring starts, then required shoulder surgery in the offseason. He'll either miss all of 2023 or return at the tail end just in time to not have enough time to get back on track. He'll be out of New York come November and will have to sign a one-year deal elsewhere to rebuild his value.