Corey Seager and Marcus Semien have landed in Texas. Javy Baez is on his way to Detroit. Justin Verlander, Kevin Gausman, Max Scherzer, Jon Gray and others have created a free agent frenzy by signing with their new teams.
And none of those teams are the New York Yankees.
GM Brian Cashman said at the GM Meetings that he believed some “latitude” would be given in payroll after doing owner Hal Steinbrenner’s bidding and staying under the luxury tax threshold last year. With a historic crop of shortstops in free agency, as well as the need for center field and rotation help, the Yanks were expected to be one of the more aggressive teams in the league this offseason.
They’ve been the exact opposite thus far.
Cash likes to work in the shadows, but there’s been no sunlight to even cast on on E. 161st Street. Teams like the Rangers and Mets, on the other hand, have been putting their money where their mouth is and landing top dogs on the market to better themselves for 2022, while the Yanks have only been rumored to be checking in on certain players.
So the grand question becomes: Is it time for Yankee fans to panic as players continue to sign elsewhere?
The short answer right now is, well, I wouldn’t blame you. It’s bizarre to see the Bombers not doing a single thing before the expected lockout after Cashman’s lengthy comments about what must be done this offseason to get his team back to a World Series contender.
The most disappointment, though, has to be in the starting pitching market. The Yanks knew they needed help here. They have depth, sure, but Gerrit Cole never had a solid No. 2 behind him in 2021 and there’s no telling who could be that person this season. When it was known that the Yanks put in a bid for Verlander before the Houston Astros added on a second year worth $25 million, many thought they’d be aggressive in the starters’ market right away.
Gausman is now in the AL East with a potent Toronto Blue Jays rotation that includes Hyun Jin-Ryu and Jose Berrios, who re-signed as well. Scherzer is in Queens on a deal that blew Cole’s out of the water in average annual value ($43.3 million? Sheesh).
There are still options available – Carlos Rodon, Marcus Stroman, Clayton Kershaw among them – but there hasn’t been a peep about whether or not New York wants any of them.
And then there’s the shortstop market, with many believing Seager was the right man for the job. Some even thought Semien, after his pummeling of the Yanks last season in a Blue Jays uniform, would be a great fit.
But now those two and Baez are off the table, leaving Carlos Correa and Trevor Story as the ones left of the “Power Five.” All hope isn’t lost but the Yanks aren’t helping themselves when you see SNY’s Andy Martino reporting that they're looking into stop-gap option Andrelton Simmons, as well as exploring Rangers SS Isiah Kiner-Falefa’s market.
These two shortstops are certainly defensive studs, but frankly, that’s not what fans expected when Cashman said this team needs a shortstop. Correa is more like it – an All-Star who can field and hit at an above average level.
But, of course, the offseason isn’t over and as we’ve pointed out, there are options still out there. Correa, a potential Matt Olson trade and extending Aaron Judge could be on the docket for Cashman & Co.
The optics right now, however, aren’t good. Other teams are being the aggressors the Yankees were expected to be, leading to Cashman’s talk at the GM Meetings sounding like just that.
With the lockout upon us soon, more silence from the Bombers will likely come. We all might have to wait until a new CBA is hammered out to see if Cashman really was working behind the scenes all along.
Or even worse for Yankee fans, just simply whiffing on these free agents.