It wouldn’t be free agency without the best players available being linked to the Yankees. Even though the MLB offseason hasn’t started yet, star shortstop Corey Seager has already been linked to the Bombers.
Jeff Passan on The Michael Kay Show predicts that Corey Seager will be the #Yankees Shortstop next season and command a contract above $300 Million pic.twitter.com/DxShOZ45Xs
On the surface, Seager makes all the sense in the world for the Yankees. The Bombers desperately need a shortstop and left-handed bats. Seager is a 27-year old lefty shortstop with an .870 career OPS and postseason pedigree. What’s not to love? Well, there are a few reasons I don’t believe he’s the best fit for the Yanks. Let’s take a look.
1. The price tag
I swear I’m not a Hal Steinbrenner burner account. Fans love to say “what do you care, it’s not your money!” They’re right, it’s not. If I had it my way, I’d sign Seager and Carlos Correa to be the left side of our infield & have a $400 million annual payroll. I would gladly pay higher ticket prices to watch that team. But realistically, that just isn’t going to happen.
Is another $300 million contract really the best idea with Gerrit Cole & Giancarlo Stanton each on the books for seven more years, plus whatever extension Aaron Judge likely gets? That’s a lot of money tied up long-term in four players. If Hal says screw it and goes over the luxury tax every year, then I’m all in for it. However, with the luxury tax number still in question as the new CBA gets negotiated, I wouldn’t bet on that. If the Yankees are going to continue to reset the tax every three years, having $120 million tied up in four players is not the way to go.
2. He may not play shortstop for long
Seager isn’t some kind of butcher defensively. He would certainly provide an upgrade over Gleyber Torres at shortstop. On the other hand, he’s not a particularly strong defender. Seager posted a -6 outs above average mark this season, and some have concerns about his arm strength post-Tommy John surgery.
There are already talks of him having to move off of shortstop in the somewhat near future. I’ve seen this take from a lot of Yankee fans regarding having to move Seager:
“Well he only needs to play shortstop for a year until Volpe or Peraza are ready.”
Why are we banking on prospects being ready in a year to justify signing someone to a $300 million contract? Don’t get me wrong, I’m stoked about what kind of players Volpe or Peraza could become. But the Yankees need a shortstop right now. In a perfect world, both of those guys become studs and play alongside whatever shortstop we sign. Still, none of that is guaranteed. I do not want the Yankees in the same position in two years, needing a shortstop, if neither of the kids can stick there & Seager needs to be moved to third base. Stop treating prospects as guarantees & excuses to not acquire MLB talent.
3. He’s slow
At Brian Cashman’s season-ending press conference, he mentioned a few areas where the Yankees need to improve roster-construction wise. They need to get more left-handed, better defensively, and more athletic. While Seager checks the first box, he doesn’t particularly help with the other two. I get that not everyone can do everything, but if you’re paying a guy a $300 million, he should probably help you in multiple areas.
Seager ranked just 39th percentile in sprint speed this season. For comparison, other free agent shortstops Trevor Story (89th percentile) & Marcus Semien (87th) finished near the top of the league in sprint speed. Correa ranked just 48th percentile, but he’s a much better athlete and one of the best defensive shortstops in baseball. A potential Yankees infield comprising Seager, DJ LeMahieu & Gleyber Torres is still very slow and not all that good defensively.
So where do they go from here?
For one, if they’re going to drop $300M+ on a shortstop and hamstring themselves financially, at least get the best one. Correa puts up similar offensive numbers to Seager, is a bit younger, and has the defensive tools to stick at the position for a long time. On the other hand, you could go Story, who is a step down offensively but offers a ton in the speed & defense departments. At 29, Story should come significantly cheaper than Seager or Correa. The 31-year old Semien will command the shortest-term deal of the bunch, but could end up being a bargain as he’s coming off a 45 HR, 102 RBI, 133 OPS+ season.
The Yankees don’t have any internal options for shortstop going into 2022. Peraza probably isn’t ready, Volpe definitely isn’t ready. Tyler Wade & Andrew Velazquez don’t hit enough to be everyday players. They’ve already admitted Torres is a second baseman, and Gio Urshela is not a shortstop either. They’re going to bring in somebody to play short. Who it is, we’ll have to wait and see.
Who’s your pick to be the Yankees’ shortstop in 2022? Comment below or tweet me @ncostanzo24