This was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Yankees. With young talent on the roster and the top farm system in baseball, they were supposed to be building toward contention in 2019 after spending a metric ton’s worth of cash on stars like Manny Machado and Bryce Harper.
The Yankees’ plans all along have been to let their young stars develop and not to spend big on free agents until the 2018 offseason.
Well, plans change. That’s baseball, Suzyn.
Heading into the All Star break, and subsequent trade deadline, the Yanks appear to only have a few question marks to address. However, one is an absolutely glaring hole that has plagued the Yankees for almost two full seasons, and could possibly prevent them from truly contending late in October.
First are the corners. With Chase Headley continuing to struggle offensively and defensively, the Yankees are poised to upgrade the hot corner through the eventual call up of top prospect Gleyber Torres. Third base will be an in-house fix, most likely at some point this season, and should be a fairly seamless transition.
First base, however, is going to be a tougher void to fill. Time is running out on Greg Bird and all signs seem to be trending in the wrong direction.
Joe Girardi tells Mike that Greg Bird is still not right and is back to seeing the doctor. Wow.
Joe: “I found out today he said his leg is still not right..he said it today, he hit a ball off his leg, we don’t if the swelling went down. https://t.co/XUurkjgRXp
(cont– Girardi on Bird): “He’s back to seeing Dr. Ahmad. I haven’t heard from our doctor yet..” https://t.co/1VGqiPG1jC
With Greg Bird still not healthy, and completely lost at the plate when he was, the first place Yanks will not — and should not — continue to wait around for if/when Bird rights the ship. They also will not — and should not — ride Chris Carter the rest of the way. And, as much as fans love them, Rob Refsnyder and Tyler Austin are also not long-term solutions. Not for the New York Yankees.
This leaves first base as the glaring hole the Bombers had not had to worry about with Mark Teixeira being both consistent offensively and a Gold Glove defender from 2009-2015. Alas Mark is gone, and for the last two seasons the Yankees have had the worst production at first base in the league.
So, how do the Yankees solve this problem?
In the final season of his contract with Kansas City, and with the Royals all but definitely unable to re-sign him, Hosmer could be the perfect fit for this Yankees team.
He is a proven All Star, a World Series Champion, a 3-time Gold Glove defender, and a left handed middle of the order bat that hits for average and power (in a notorious pitcher’s park.) He can be slotted in between Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge (if and when Gary moves back up to the 2 spot). Also, for what it’s worth, Eric grew up a Yankees fan as a child in Florida.
This would be a move that would not have made sense a few months ago, because the front office did not believe a move like this would benefit the Yankees, as they are not one or two pieces away from a World Series.
Well it certainly appears that they are now only one or two pieces away.
The Yankees could acquire Hosmer in a couple different ways. First, they could attempt to make a trade for him at the deadline. With the Royals knowing they will lose him to free agency, they may want to at least get something for him. If this is the case, the Yanks could deal prospects not named Torres, Frazier or Rutherford since Hosmer could be viewed as a “rental.” But some more expendable pieces like Tyler Wade, Jorge Mateo, Miguel Andujar, and Dustin Fowler could be in play, and some combination of these players could be enough to grab Hosmer.
For those immediately rejecting the notion of trading for a “rental,” this doesn’t really apply to the Yankees as it may other teams. Why? Because if Hosmer is willing to come to New York via a trade, and it works for both sides, the Yankees would certainly be able to re-sign him in the offseason.
If this is a move that the Yankees decide to pursue, Hosmer is undoubtedly not going to be cheap to sign to a long-term deal. However, firmly established in his prime entering his age 28 season next year, a long-term deal at 6-7 years could solidify a position of need for New York in ways they hoped Greg Bird would.
Now, an off-season move of this magnitude could alter the trajectory of that 2018 free agent class. It would be hard to believe the Yankees could sign Hosmer in 2018, and then turn around the following off-season and sign both Bryce Harper and Manny Machado like many seem to anticipate.
However, given the rumored contracts Harper and Machado are seeking, it doesn’t seem quite feasible that any team would realistically commit to TWO 10 year deals worth upwards of $400 million dollars a piece.
Especially with the emergence of Aaron Judge and the potential of Gleyber Torres, while the addition of Harper and/or Machado would certainly help any ball club, they now appear more as luxury items than necessities.
Hosmer addresses an absolute necessity. With a void at first base, and the absence of multiple strong left handed bats in this lineup, signing Hosmer can propel the Yankees in 2017, while setting them up to still make a run at Harper or Machado in 2018.
Follow me on Twitter, @JaredSaul