The austerity-minded Yankees are switching their attention from the expensive free-agent market to talent available via trades. It might work.
Apparently, the Yankees will not be shopping in the gourmet aisle of high-priced free agent talent this year.
The edict has come down from Hal Steinbrenner to his general manager Brian Cashman to hold the line at team payroll for 2021 at or near the luxury tax threshold of $210 million.
Reacting to a reported loss of $347 million in revenue last year due to the shortened season with no fans in the stands, plus the uncertainty surrounding the upcoming season, Steinbrenner, effectively has withdrawn the Yankees from the free-agent marketplace.
Swimming In The Kiddie Pool
The talent needed to fill the holes the Yankees have is there, but the Yankees have no standing to compete without the dollars, as they normally would in most years.
To cite a few, Trevor Bauer is this year’s Gerrit Cole addition to the starting staff. Simultaneously, J.T. Realmuto is the standout to replace enigmatic Gary Sanchez, and George Springer is the All-Star centerfielder who can replace the still not fully recovered from Tommy John surgery, Aaron Hicks.
Throwing in the towel on the pursuit of these elite players is a tough nut for most Yankees fans to swallow, especially given that we are talking about the New York Yankees, baseball’s richest and most-prized franchise.
Nevertheless, it’s time to get real as a fan – in support of Steinbrenner’s austerity-minded way – or jump ship to the excitement brewing across the river in Queens and Steve Cohen’s newfound toy.
Yankees: Trying It The Other Way
So with that being said, let’s move on to some of the more credible rumors regarding trades the Yankees are pursuing, with the proviso that to get something, you have to give something.
Excepting players from the team’s farm system, rostered Yankees on the block depend on whether or not DJ LeMahieu is ultimately resigned.
Nevertheless, the Yankees and the Pittsburgh Pirates have a dialog underway. The Pirates have no chance to contend in 2021 in the NL Central, and therefore are looking to trim payroll as their star players ascend their way through the expensive arbitration process.
MLbtraderumors.com reports that The Yankees and Pirates have engaged in conversations centered on Pittsburgh right-hander Jameson Taillon and first baseman Josh Bell, Jason Mackey Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.
In keeping with the Yankees’ intention to minimize payroll as much as possible, Taillon has two years of arbitration control left, and he’s projected to earn a very affordable $2.3MM in 2021.
Bell is also down to his second-last year of arb control, though he’s slated to rake in a more expensive salary ranging from $5.1MM to $7.2MM.
Both would be welcome additions to the Yankees. A healthy Taillon would give the Yankees another proven starter alongside Gerrit Cole, his ex-Pirates teammate, as well as Luis Severino (who’s on the mend from his own TJ surgery). (mlb.com)
Bell would appear to be a misfit for the Yankees roster as currently constructed, and his addition would require the subtraction of Luke Voit at first base or Giancarlo Stanton‘s expected swallowing of the DH role.
Rumors Fly Everywhere
In another save now pay later move, the Yankees are rumored to be interested in trading for Trevor Story, the Rockies All-Star shortstop.
Trevor Story will be a free agent next year. With the Rockies having absorbed the eight-year $260 million contract awarded to Nolan Arenado, funds will be greatly narrowed for this mid-sized market team to handle Story.
Trevor Story is an ideal fit for the Yankees as he would allow the transfer of Gleyber Torres back to second base and away from the experiment at shortstop that hasn’t gone as well as expected.
Reacting to their need to have a replacement for Gary Sanchez should things go south again. The Yankees are also looking into perennial All-Star and long-time Cardinal Yadier Molina as a one-year stopgap to man the backstop position. Don’t hold your breath on this one.
Bound to change every day, it’s best to keep the MLB Trade Rumors site nearby as the offseason unfolds.
Yankees Brian Cashman – Can He Do It Again?
Brian Cashman has proven to be especially magical regarding his innate ability to swing trades that benefit both teams while bending the Yankees’ needs in a more favorable direction.
What would happen if Cashman came to Hal Steinbrenner’s desk with a proposal to sign Trevor Bauer or J.T. Realmuto, thus increasing the chances the Yankees would go over the limit is anyone’s guess.
At this rate, though, and unless Cashman is operating under the radar of some of baseball’s best “spies,” the Yankees will make or break their 2020 offseason via the trade market.
At the point of saying “You can’t fight City Hall” (thank you, Al Pacino), the Yankees’ 2021 version is best followed via trade rumors as a vehicle to improve the team.
It is what it is, or that’s at least what Hal Steinbrenner is telling us.
What’s left is knowing the Yankees have little choice in the matter, and with good-will hunting left behind, the ball remains in the hands of Brian Cashman to do the best he can within the fiscal constraints presented.
But if this strategy doesn’t work and Cashman can’t pull a rabbit from beneath his hat to acquire players who make a difference, the door is open for the Mets and Steve Cohen to replace the Yankees as The team in New York.
Let’s see where this leads us before any conclusions are reached. But at the same time, look closely at the MLB Transaction Wire to see how many, if any, of the trade rumors are fulfilled to improve the Yankees for the 2021 season.