The New York Yankees cannot afford to enter 2024 without a left fielder, which sounds like an insane thing to even posit that a team might do. Unfortunately, they tried it last year, so it's plausibly something Brian Cashman and Co. could get tricked into.
Last offseason, the Yankees shirked upgrades in favor of converted infielder Oswaldo Cabrera, who was an excellent spark plug in limited quantities down the stretch in 2022. Unfortunately, handing the keys to Cabrera was the evolutionary version of, "Uh, Some Rookie Will Be Our Fifth Starter?". Sounds acceptable in theory (for, like, two minutes), but in practice, your fifth starter always becomes your third starter by the end of April, and your infielder/outfielder always turns back into a pumpkin by the season's second road trip.
In order to avoid such uncertainty in 2024, many believe the Yankees should simply sign Cody Bellinger off a return-to-form campaign in Chicago (don't check the exit velocities and batted ball data). His father was a dynasty Yankee (Clay). He was a Rookie of the Year and MVP before he lost himself. He can cover center, right, left and first base in a pinch. He was also available for just $17.5 million last offseason, then reworked his swing, rebounded and hit the market with a head of steam this winter.
And that's why MLB Trade Rumors' prediction that he could go to either the Yankees or Giants is encouraging ... until you read the dollar figure and time commitment they've attached to a whole load of uncertainty.
Yankees can't afford Cody Bellinger contract projections in free agency
First Bob Nightengale tossed out a harrowing $300 million possibility (or, at least, a request), and now MLBTR has Bellinger pegged as a 12-year, $264 million guy with a shockingly short track record. If you weren't already scared off by the high variance in Bellinger's swing, hopefully this sealed the deal for you.
The Yankees' potential Bellinger plan was spooky enough already when it seemed they'd have to pony up a mere $150 million to swipe him. Now that the lineup balance he provides could cost more than Yoshinobu Yamamoto? It just doesn't make much sense to stick someone in various outfield outposts without a natural position at the price of One Complete Payroll.
Best of luck to the San Francisco Giants. Maybe this is the high-dollar free agency pursuit that actually sticks.