The New York Yankees entered 2023 without a left fielder, which is something the smartest person in the room does if that person also happens to be very dumb.
This winter, it'll once again be Brian Cashman's mission to find an experienced veteran to man the position, instead of going with "INTERNAL OPTION NO. 4". Unfortunately, it'll be much more difficult to pin that veteran this offseason than it was last year.
MLB's comprehensive list of left field free agents was certainly a bummer to read, and was likely just as much of a bummer to compile. After scrolling the list, you might find yourself getting a sudden onset case of "Thinking Oswaldo Cabrera Might Be Able to Hold Down the Fort After All." Here's what the Yankees, and other needy MLB teams, are currently working with, organized by tiers.
*NOTE: If Mark Canha declines his club option, he'll rank in the top tier. Pickins' are that slim.
*SECOND NOTE: The Yankees could, of course, sign an athletic outfielder and move him to left field. Cody Bellinger springs to mind. He's not a well-established LF, though, so this isn't his list. Same with Adam Duvall, who's like Cody Bellinger, but not $200 million.
MLB Free Agency: Ranking 2023 Free Agent Left Fielders
Free Agent Left Fielders: Top Tier
1. Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
2. Joc Pederson
3. Tommy Pham
Look. It could be worse. The Yankees could've matched or exceeded the White Sox five-year, $75 million deal for Andrew Benintendi last offseason, which is exactly what the Mets paid for Cy Young candidate Kodai Senga. Benintendi hit .262, homered five times, and put up 0.2 bWAR. He will only be aging further over the course of the deal. That's how time works.
Of the top three left fielders in this year's market, two of them currently play for the National League champion Arizona Diamondbacks. Gurriel is the better player, foolishly surrendered by the Toronto Blue Jays (alongside Gabriel Moreno) this past offseason. He made his first All-Star team this season at the age of 30, finishing with 24 homers and a 108 OPS+. He's not a fantastic bet for the Yankees, as he'll be looking to cash in with very few prime years remaining. He's also the best available.
Pham will be cheaper, and could be an excellent one-year, culture-changing stopgap. Pederson is the only lefty in the top tier, and the time to get him was probably two years ago. He's coming off the qualifying offer, meaning he's gotten used to making ~$20 million/year. The Yankees might want to pry Pham loose or hope Canha joins this fray.