The rumor mill is currently burning for the Yankees so far this offseason, but what are the odds some of these moves actually happen?
So far the Yankees have made several moves this offseason, bringing back veterans CC Sabathia and Bret Gardner, along with adding potential ace James Paxton. The Bronx Bombers also parted ways with fan favorite utility man Ronald Torreyes.
Still, though, the Yankees have been tied to many more players. After getting under the luxury tax in 2018, the Yankees have a lot more room to add free agents to their payroll. Further, with a stacked farm system, New York could potentially trade for even more. Which rumors seem to be burning hottest?
1. Signing Patrick Corbin
The Yankees and Patrick Corbin have been tied to Patrick Corbin all offseason. Speculation that the Yankees would add the New York native started during the 2018 season and has only grown since.
Let the games begin pic.twitter.com/hZSlRobtQq
— The Official Simonetti Source (@SimonettiSource) November 29, 2018
Likelihood it will happen: Somewhat Likely
I would have graded this very likely a few weeks ago, but then the Yankees acquired James Paxton. The 2018 Yankees won 100 games with a rotation of Severino, Tanaka, Sabathia, a terrible Sonny Gray, trade acquisitions J.A. Happ and Lance Lynn, and a mish-mosh of young talent like Domingo German and Jonathan Loaisiga. They were able to accomplish 100 wins because of a dominant bullpen and a lineup that scores a lot.
Their 2019 rotation is currently Severino, Tanaka, Sabathia, and James Paxton. Replacing Sonny Gray’s production with James Paxton’s makes this team leaps and bounds ahead of where they were in 2018. Almost to the point of not needing Patrick Corbin…
While everyone seems quick to add Corbin to the rotation, the addition of Paxton gives the Yankees the ability to say no to Patrick Corbin. They don’t absolutely need him, they could always sign J.A. Happ for less money and fewer years.
2. Trading Jacoby Ellsbury
Let’s face it, the Ellsbury contract might be the worst contract in the sport currently, and is in the running for worst all time. Almost every Yankee fan wants to trade Ells, but how likely is it that he actually gets traded?
Here is 1 I am making up, have NOT heard anything on it, but if you were #Mariners #Yankees would you swap Santana (2-$35M) for Ellsbury (2-$47.3M) even out $, and NYY send a good not great prospect or 2 to Sea. Would mean NYY likely giving up on Bird/Voit at 1b.
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) December 3, 2018
Likelihood it will happen: Very Unlikely
I give Mr. Sherman very big props for coming up with this trade idea. It sort of does make sense, if you think Ellsbury will agree to waive his no-trade clause. Why would he? Wouldn’t he rather compete for the starting LF job on a Yankees team poised to make a playoff run again? I think if given the option the Yankees would make this trade, but I don’t think the Mariners would.
It would be a tremendous risk going from Santana to the never healthy Ellsbury unless they absolutely loved the prospect. Would any other team be willing to take on Ellsbury? Most likely not. This Mariners trade seems like the most likely trade since Santana fits New York’s needs if they give up on Voit/Bird and Jerry Dipoto never saw a trade he didn’t like.
3. Interested In Signing Manny Machado
Many in the industry speculate that Yankees will get Machado, even after Steinbrenner confirmed that team was troubled by his October.
Constantly checking in too see if there’s movement on MM and/or Bryce Harper https://t.co/JOa22NDVcd
— Andy Martino (@martinonyc) December 3, 2018
Likelihood it will happen: Somewhat Unlikely
One of the two big free agent bats available this offseason, Manny Machado has to overcome the negative perception of his personality that came about after his seemingly dirty plays during this past postseason. If you’re the Yankees, do you really want to invest 10 years and $250 to $350 million on a player with some character questions?
Not only does Manny have some character issues, but the Yankees also have some roster issues. Machado plays shortstop and third base. The Yankees have Didi Gregorius and Miguel Andujar. Didi is injured and may miss half the season, but he’s still going to come back. What happens to Didi or Andujar once Didi is healthy if New York signs Machado?
If that wasn’t enough to sow doubt on the potential Machado signing, consider how many teams have a ton of money to spend on Free Agents this year. The Yankees usually have the most money to spend, but Brian Cashman is running a savvy front office, if other teams drive up the price on Manny, I don’t think Cashman will play that game. Much like the Robinson Cano deal, the Yankees could get priced out.
4. Pursuing Bryce Harper
According to a rival executive, the growing sense around baseball circles is that, as each days passes, the likelihood of Bryce Harper signing with the Yankees becomes more likely
— Dan Federico (@DanJFederico) November 30, 2018
Likelihood it will happen: 50/50
If the Yankees don’t sign Manny Machado, then they HAVE to sign Bryce Harper…right? Since when have the Yankees let both of the top free agents pass them by in a competitive year? Arguments in favor of Harper to the New York includes (1) He’s left-handed and the Yankees only have Greg Bird, Brett Gardner, and Ellsbury (if healthy), (2) He plays outfield and currently Gardner is #1 on the depth chart in left field, and (3) He’s a 26-year-old with an MVP under his belt and coming off a “down year” in which his OBP was .393 and he hit 34 home runs.
Arguments against include (1) The Phillies are said to be willing to beat out any team’s offer on Harper, (2) There are a ton of teams trying to land him, (3) The Yankees could go with Gardner/Ellsbury/Frazier/Stanton in left field, and (4) Bryce Harper likes his beard.
While I disagree with those saying Harper doesn’t fit as a Yankee (I think he is more of a fit than Machado is), there are still a ton of factors working against Bryce to the Yankees. Ultimately, it could come down to whether Harper’s desire to play in New York outweighs a potentially bigger monetary commitment from another team.
The lefty bat the Yankees have always needed pic.twitter.com/8lQZSgHM8U
— C_Dawg15🎅🎄 (@swaggsthebeast) December 4, 2018
Or, how invested he really is in his beard.
5. Acquiring a Left-Handed Reliever
After trading away Chasen Shreve in 2018, the Yankees traded for Zach Britton. That gave them one lefty in the pen not named Aroldis Chapman. Later in the year, Stephen Tarpley was added, and he remains the only left-handed relief option other than Chapman on the 40-man roster.
Currently, Britton, Andrew Miller, Oliver Perez, Tony Sipp, Jake Diekman, Justin Wilson, and a few other lefties are free agents. It makes sense for the Yankees to sign one of them. If not, then the Yankees could look to trade for a reliever like Tony Watson.
Likelihood it will happen: 99.99%