Saturday, November 13, 2021

Correa, Seager or Bust...


Yankees Fans impatiently wait…

Contrary to the title of this post, there is a very real possibility the Yankees get neither Carlos Correa nor Corey Seager. So, whether you feel the Yankees sign Correa, despite his history with trash cans, or Seager, despite his lesser defensive skills (than Correa) and the need for a position switch to third within the next couple of years, it is not our God-given right that we are going to get either one.

I could see a scenario where Correa goes to Detroit to be united with his former manager, A.J. Hinch, and Seager signs with the Texas Rangers, who are this year’s team with “stupid money” to spend. While it seems obvious the Houston Astros will not be players for Correa (based on their low-ball offer), you can never count the Los Angeles Dodgers out for Seager. He is a popular player with the Dodgers fan base, and a talented player on the field. The current third baseman, Justin Turner, will be 37 years old in ten days. Turner played 151 games last season, only the second time he has reached that number in his career, and the likelihood is that his numbers will start to trend downward. Turner will make $20 million in 2022 (counts $17 million toward the luxury tax threshold). His option for $16 million in 2023 can be bought out for $2 million. I can easily see the Dodgers deciding to move on from Turner if he shows signs of slippage in 2022. It makes sense to retain Seager to replace Turner and begin the transition next season, particularly if the universal DH is adopted in the National League. Trea Turner becomes the shortstop and insert Gavin Lux at second base. The Dodgers have the cash to make this work.

I am not trying to be a downer, but we need to set realistic expectations. If the Yankees sign Correa or Seager, I will be ecstatic. I am willing to forgive Correa if he joins the Yankees, and I think Aaron Judge would accept him, as one of the game’s best shortstops, in the Yankees clubhouse. While we will never forgive the sins of the Houston Astros as an organization, the players can seek redemption. I will never like Alex Bregman or Jose Altuve, as I viewed them as leaders in the scandal, but the other players were, to a small degree, victims of circumstances. They were part of a team and while we can say they should have blown the whistle; it is simply not as easy as that. How do you rat out your teammates? Or if you do, what kind of man are you? Some would say a great man, but others would say he is untrustworthy and unsupportive of his teammates. The latter tag would be exceedingly difficult to shake in clubhouses. It took an ex-Astro to step forward. I am not trying to defend Correa, but I do view it as a complicated situation for him. If the Yankees have the chance to sign a 27-year-old all-around great shortstop, they should.

While I keep going back and forth, there is no doubt I would love to have Corey Seager wear pinstripes. I am on board with a plan to eventually move Seager to third base to open shortstop for Oswald Peraza or Anthony Volpe when they are ready. It is likely if the Yankees are successful in trading for Oakland A’s first baseman Matt Olson, one of the young shortstops (probably Peraza) could be lost in the trade, but Volpe shows signs of being something special regardless of the talk he may need to be moved to second. In that scenario, sign a fill-in shortstop when the time comes to move Seager, and wait for a young stud like Trey Sweeney. The Yankees have options to keep Seager’s powerful bat in the lineup regardless of the position he plays.

But, if the Yankees are unsuccessful in their runs for either Correa or Seager, it is not the end of the world. I have long respected Trevor Story. I get the fears of Mile-High induced stats, but if you have seen the guy play, you know he is among the better players in the game. Like his former teammate, DJ LeMahieu, succeeded in New York, Story can do the same. Toronto’s Marcus Semien has the knack for coming up big in the brightest moments. He may be older, but he buys time for Peraza and Volpe. I know I would be disappointed if the Yankees do not get at least Story, but I would feel good with Semien playing shortstop in the Bronx next season.

Photo Credit: Michael Reaves, Getty Images

If the off-season shortstop acquisition is Andrelton Simmons, then we will know all plans went to hell.

It is sad that minor league free agent Kyle Holder’s offensive game could never match his sterling glove. If he could have hit, his timing for Major League readiness would have been now.

As other teams quickly move to make coaching staff changes, I wonder when the Yankees will announce Aaron Boone’s 2022 coaching staff. Based on GM Brian Cashman’s recent words, it sounded as though candidates were being vetted so it seems some announcements could be made soon. I saw the Minnesota Twins hired former Padres manager Jayce Tingler as their bench coach. Tingler may not have been a great manager for the loaded but uninspired Padres, but he is the type of hire I would like to see for Yankees bench coach. Not him specifically, but someone with his type of resume. Former Yankee coach Trey Hillman, most recently on Donnie Baseball’s staff in Miami, seems like a logical choice. He is valued by the front office and obviously knows the organization. I would move current bench coach Carlos Mendoza to first base. For third, former Mets manager Luis Rojas has been mentioned. Like Tingler, he did not prove to be a great manager, but I would have no trouble sliding him into the third base box as Phil Nevin’s replacement. It would be a good mutual fit for Rojas as it could position him for his next managerial job which could prove more successful for him.

I was surprised the Yankees re-signed LHP Joely Rodriguez so quickly. Granted, I thought he did an excellent job after his acquisition from Texas last July at the trading deadline, but realistically, he is easily replaceable. Why waste a valuable 40-man roster spot with him? I know the Yankees saved money. By declining the team option for $3 million, the Texas Rangers were on the hook for the $500,000 buyout. Putting Rodriguez’s John Hancock on a piece of paper three days later for $2 million technically saved the Yankees $1 million. I think I would have waited, even if it had meant losing Rodriguez, to keep the roster spot open. As it stands, the Yankees need to clear roster space (currently full) between now and next weekend to make room for valuable Rule 5 eligible prospects. I would hate to see another Garrett Whitlock situation where a talented prospect is grabbed by a rival and flourishes at the Major League level. The deadline to protect eligible prospects from the Rule 5 Draft is Friday, November 19th, so it is a given there will be activity on the Yankees’ transaction wire this week. A wonderful time to send multiple players to Oakland for Matt Olson.

Speaking of Olson, it is tough. I really enjoyed Anthony Rizzo as a Yankee. I truly feel that if he had not contracted COVID-19, his time in Pinstripes could have embodied the brilliance of his first several weeks before becoming ill. I know he is an older player, and Olson is so much younger and better, but I would hate to lose Rizzo while chasing a potentially unsuccessful run for Olson. If the Yankees do grab Olson, I will not give it a second thought and will be incredibly happy for the team’s latest first baseman. I am hopeful if the Yankees cannot pry Olson from the A’s, they can quickly pivot back to Rizzo.

The Yankees should sign Aaron Judge to an extension.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

The next critical date for the Yankees is December 1st for the non-tender deadline. This is the date we will know the fates of guys like Gary Sanchez, Miguel Andujar and Clint Frazier. A few years ago, it would have seemed so improbable they would be non-tendered, but here we are. It seems a given that Frazier is gone. Not sure how much value Andujar has right now, but it still seems a trade for a low-level lottery ticket would make more sense. I do not see the Yankees letting Sanchez go but I also recognize his time as a starting catcher for the Yankees may be over. There is a part of me that still holds out hope Sanchez can be the player we once thought he was going to be. If not, I would rather see him traded so the Yankees can control his destination rather than simply allow him to hit the open market and land with a rival, only to find success with his new team. I am glad that Brian Cashman, and not me, must make these decisions.

December 1st also represents the expiration of the current collective bargaining agreement so the next day could bring a lockout. There is growing pessimism that a new deal can be struck before the CBA expires, yet it seems so foolish for both sides to allow a stoppage that could disrupt, at a minimum, the off-season. All parties stand to make incredible sums of money in 2022 if they can collaborate and compromise. A lockout, in my opinion, would do more harm than good for the game.

As always, Go Yankees!