The Yankees need a new star shortstop. Nothing can be written here that hasn’t already been said.
So, it is no surprise that when news broke that Cashman and company were not engaging in negotiations for a shortstop, but were rather “monitoring” the market, there was outrage.
How can the Yankees, an iconic franchise, with one of the most iconic shortstops to ever play, now be going into yet another season without an anchor at the position? Worse, why is this okay with the Steinbrenner family and Cashman?
While the baseball atmosphere has changed through the years, one thing has remained constant: shortstops affect teams. Not including the Atlanta Braves, the past five World Series winners, and other notably playoff-contending teams all have one thing in common: an anchor at shortstop.
Corey Seager, Trea Turner, Xander Bogaerts, Carlos Correa, and Javy Báez are all impact players in their own dynamic ways. Seager, Turner and Bogaerts maintain calm composure while consistently posting all-star and MVP numbers. Báez and Correa provide a bit more flair in their game, provide dynamic fielding, and, most importantly, have proven they can succeed on the big stage.
Now, neither are beloved in New York. Between Báez waging a war vs. Mets fans, and Correa–well what hasn’t Correa said or done to enrage Yankees fans? Neither is a perfect choice for New York fans.
However, not every player that has donned the pinstripes has been beloved by the Yankee fans. Above all else, both of these players have proven they can win, and perform on the big stage.
Most notably, even after the booing of the fans incident in Queens, Báez “apologized” and put up a monstrous tenure with the Mets. And, as of this writing, the Mets are still pursuing him. So why then is Cashman not considering a proven New York player?
Báez is apparently not seeking a very lengthy deal. Media outlets predict he will sign a five-year deal worth about $100 million.
Of course, this market is very unpredictable right now between a looming lockout and players getting very lucrative deals.
However, $20 million AAV could be perfect for what the Yankees need right now. Between the looming question mark of Aaron Judge’s pending free agency, it may be in their best interest to defer the money in years two or three to Báez to ensure they keep Judge. Or, give more money to Báez upfront with yearly player options.
Further, unlike the other elite free-agent shortstops, Báez is the most durable. Báez has never had a season in which he played less than 138 games. Correa has only had two seasons where he played above 110 games. That’s a concern for the Yankees, given their already frustrating IL stints of Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Luke Voit.
But of course, Báez does not come without flaws. He is notoriously the biggest enemy of walks and will swing at anything thrown his way, certainly not a welcome sight for the fans.
But, I would argue that the Yankees have other players that get on base, and, unless Cashman truly doesn’t want his job, he will likely sign other contact heavy guys.
If they sign Anthony Rizzo, DJ LeMahieu returns to form, Judge stays healthy, their lineup lengthens and becomes insured by Báez’s swing and miss game. It may not be the perfect solution, but it is likely the best one available.
Otherwise, sure, sign Correa, who is notoriously hated, and see how he fares in New York. As we know, New York is different, so for me, I’d ensure I get an anchor at shortstop that can play in any atmosphere.
Now, of course, Seager is still a viable option as well, however, the question of personality and moxie for New York is still a concern. Not to say that every player must be able to perform or don’t bother, but the last thing the Yankees need is another botched contract of overpaying players that cannot perform on the big stage.