In terms of lengthy, free agent contracts that uniformly age poorly (believe me, there will come a day when this one stinks!), it'd be hard to imagine a better short-term fit for the current Yankees than Corey Seager, who was available for money alone in the 2021-22 offseason.
The Yankees have always absorbed long-term contracts knowing they could eventually weather the back-end storm (Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, and other people New York has made disappear come to mind). Sometime prior to the Great Shortstop Rush of Winter 2022, though, the Yankees decided they feared the back end of contracts more than they enjoyed the front end.
Then, they opted to pay 36-year-old Josh Donaldson only the back end of his deal. But, in fairness, how could anyone pass up that opportunity?!
Sadly, the fear of late-career Seager stopped the Yankees from making a truly enjoyable win-now move that would've worked well, no matter how they moved the pieces around. Need a power-hitting lefty to balance the lineup? Seager can do that! Worried about his defense at short and an eventual position change? Anthony Volpe could've worked well alongside him, sliding over to handle short when Seager was ready to pivot to second a few years down the line. Fearful about DJ LeMahieu's regression? Want to trade Gleyber Torres? Want to maximize Oswald Peraza as a trade asset rather than floating him around (and watching him hit .130)? Seager, Seager, Seager.
Alas, the 2023 Yankees -- in the middle of Aaron Judge and Gerrit Cole's prime -- are awful. They can't hit. They can't hit with runners on base. They can't hit with bases empty. They can't hit for power. They can't hit for average. They don't love you like I love you.
Through the weekend, Seager has posted 5.7 bWAR, is hitting .341, has 24 bombs, has posted a 182 OPS+, and destroys opposing pitchers when he's got runners in scoring position in his peripheral vision.
Corey Seager would've been great Yankees mentor for Anthony Volpe. He also knows how to hit with RISP.
Through Sunday's action, that average has gone all the way down to .419. My sincere apologies.
With two outs and RISP, he hits .333 with a 1.467 OPS. The Yankees, collectively, hit .234 with a .686 OPS in any RISP scenario, which drops to .207/.628 when there are two outs. Late and close? .415 with a 1.247 mark; the Yankees hit .233 with a .692 OPS collectively. The magic is, by and large, gone.
Signing Seager could've had a DJ LeMahieu-in-2019-like effect on this putrid Yankees offense, allowing them to slide Volpe over to second, trade Torres for pitching, and prosper. Instead, the Yankees let a 10-year, $325 million commitment scare them off, allowing the upstart Texas Rangers to immediately leapfrog their contention window (until they traded for Aroldis Chapman, a fatal mistake).
Passing on Seager was especially egregious considering the worst part of his long-term profile -- "aging out" of shortstop -- specifically benefitted the Yankees, given their preponderance of young shortstops who weren't quite ready when Seager signed, but would be before 2025. In the long term, the Yankees could've comfortably facilitated Seager's transition to a new role. In the short term? He would've been great at everything they're bad at. Unfortunately, New York got timid at the wrong time, resulting in them looking timid at the plate during every crunch time scenario.