Do New York Yankees fans want defensive wizard, lefty-swinging stopgap center fielder Kevin Kiermaier in 2024 instead of making a risky, long-term pact with Cody Bellinger? Either way, the defensive wizard certainly seems to want them.
Kiermaier made no secret of his free agent ambition after departing New York for the final time as a Jay on Thursday. When he spoke with the media after Toronto's series-ending dud, he spoke about the joys of playing on natural grass, as well as the way he sees the ball in the Boogie Down.
"“I like the AL East. I’ve played in the division my entire career. I especially like here and Fenway,” Kiermaier said this week, when his Blue Jays won the first two of three games against the Yankees but lost Thursday’s finale, 5-3. “Feel like I’m always hitting homers here or playing well.""- Kevin Kiermaier
You want to get the Yankees interested? Make a note about how you love playing at both their home stadium and Fenway Park. Pit the Yanks and Red Sox against each other in a fourth outfielder free agency chase. Make the Yankees think twice about you going on the road and dominating in the grays and you playing them nine times a year at Fenway, sneering as you wrap another one around the Pesky Pole. Boom. How's $8 million sound?
Yankees Rumors: Kevin Kiermaier to New York in 2024?
Again, eight years and $200 million for Bellinger (and Scott Boras) with Jasson Dominguez returning someday, knowing full well that Bellinger lost his swing for two years prior to joining the Cubs and was non-tendered by the super-smart Dodgers? Or far less money and a far shorter commitment for Kiermaier, who's a defense-first lefty with his eyes on the short porch?
Perhaps, when Aaron Boone dropped by Talkin' Yanks this week and praised the Blue Jays' 2022-23 offseason, he wasn't just speaking in generalities.
Notably, Kiermaier has an .850 OPS career at Yankee Stadium in a sample size large enough to qualify him as a Yankee Killer. If you haven't noticed his value as a smooth-fielding, porch-aiming glue guy, perhaps it'll scream a little louder if he puts on the pinstripes next season, ably fills in for Dominguez while he's gone, then serves to mentor him (and Everson Pereira) down the stretch.
Harrison Bader was supposed to fill a similar void in 2022-23, but his recurring injury issues deflated his tenure. Plus, you can be as much of a "diehard Yankee fan" as you want. It'll never change the fact that you bat right-handed.
The same fans who wanted to extend Bader at all costs this offseason should instead start clamoring for a one-year Kiermaier deal, a short-term pact that makes far more sense (and seems to be desired by at least one of the two parties involved).