Who should the Yankees target in free agency? – The Denver Post


The Yankees need some help.

They certainly don’t need to demolish everything from their 99-win team and start over, but the dawn of a new era may be upon them if Aaron Judge uses his free-agent status to leave for more peaceful pastures.

No matter what, the best move the Yankees can possibly make this offseason is convincing Judge to stay. Re-upping Anthony Rizzo would be nice too, and inking Andrew Benintendi to a new deal would prevent Aaron Hicks from having to play more than he should.

But for the purpose of this exercise, we’re not talking about bringing anyone back, we’re exploring potential fits for people who would be joining the Yankees for the first time. Also, for the purpose of this exercise, let’s assume DJ LeMahieu is the starting third baseman next season, with Gleyber Torres at second and one of the kids at shortstop. That could all obviously change before the season actually starts. But we’re assuming here that, for the second year in a row, the Yankees will not go after any of the marquee middle infielders.

Every team has needs, and some will always be larger than others, but there are five free agents of varying talent levels and presumed salary demands that would be a logical boost for the 2023 Yankees.


The longtime Met checks a ton of boxes on the Yankees’ wishlist.

He’s a left-handed hitter, and he’d be joining a team that gave 71% of its plate appearances last season to righties. He’s got speed and defensive acumen in droves. There’s some slug in his bat too, but he’s not the feast-or-famine type that has doomed the offense in recent years.

With Harrison Bader now entrenched in center field, Nimmo would be forced back to the corners that he used to occupy in Flushing. After proving himself to be a highly skilled center fielder, Nimmo’s glove would translate well, particularly to left field in Yankee Stadium, which is much more spacious than right field.

Nimmo is in line for a $100 million deal, and he’s earned that, as it’s very possible that he is a better version of Benintendi. The two outfielders debuted just two months apart in 2016, and during their careers, Nimmo has the edge in on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS, walk rate, wRC+ and Wins Above Replacement. Benintendi is a better fit for the team’s plan of reducing their strikeouts, but Nimmo is a better overall hitter, defender and base runner.


Imagine replacing Jameson Taillon with Carlos Rodon.

Taillon, one of the Bombers’ unsung heroes last season, is a free agent now. While Rodon would cost much more money, these are the literal Yankees. They can afford him.

It’s not exactly an ideal plan, but the Yankees could hitch their wagon to starting pitching and try to make up for a potential Judge exodus by winning a bunch of low-scoring games. Rodon was the second-most valuable starting pitcher in Major League Baseball last season, according to FanGraphs. He just struck out 237 hitters in 178 innings, finished his second straight season with an ERA under 2.90 and for the last two years has held hitters to a .197/.260/.307 slash line.

He’d be a huge addition for any squad, but especially one that fancies itself as a World Series contender and has some question marks after Gerrit Cole, Nestor Cortes and Luis Severino.


The best available backstop will command a lot of attention. The Yankees should be part of that.

The saying normally refers to quarterbacks, but it can be applied here as well: if you have two catchers, you don’t really have one.

Aaron Boone began last season referring to his catcher situation as a tandem rather than naming a definitive starter. But Jose Trevino quickly established himself out of the gate. Nobody will ever be able to take Trevino’s All-Star Game appearance away from him, but he was dreadful in the second half, posting numbers that are likely much more indicative of who he is.

A career .245 hitter with a .634 OPS heading into the season, Trevino introduced himself to Yankee fans by batting .263 and rocking a .749 OPS in the first three months of the season. From July 1 on, as he racked up the most playing time of his career, those numbers sank to .238 and .620. He went 1-for-22 in the playoffs.

If that is indeed what Trevino is going to provide offensively (and his career numbers give us no reason not to believe that), the Yankees could stand to improve. Kyle Higashioka would seemingly be the odd man out if the Yankees do pursue an external catcher, as it’s hard to fully give up on a guy like Trevino who was just an All-Star and Gold Glover.

Higashioka is a wonderful defensive catcher as well, but he’s never figured out how to consistently hit, and he’s two and a half years older than Trevino. A non-tender situation wouldn’t be out of the question for Higashioka, but the Yankees have to make that decision by Nov. 18, typically well before the hot stove actually gets going.


Despite his imposing physical stature and past history as a Home Run Derby participant, Bell is much more well-rounded than most fans might think.

He maintains an above-average contact rate, has reduced his strikeout percentage in each of the last two seasons and provides some versatility as a switch hitter. Bell, a first baseman, is also three years younger than Rizzo and has slashed .264/.353/.475 over the last four years with a 120 wRC+.

If they relinquish Rizzo, the Yankees could do a lot worse than Bell.


The unsexy (but sensible) final member of this group is a lefty reliever who just surpassed 400 career innings.

You can never have too many relievers, and Chafin had good strikeout numbers in 2022 while pitching in obscurity for the Tigers. Lefties don’t hit him hard at all, and righties had a lower batting average off Chafin in 2022 than their left-handed contemporaries. Chafin is also a safer bet, health-wise, than bringing back Zack Britton.

The Yankees could and should look at other bullpen arms (Taylor Rogers, Robert Suarez, Nick Martinez), but Chafin could probably be acquired for less money. Former Yankee Adam Ottavino is an interesting option too, and so is newly-minted World Series champion Rafael Montero, but Chafin’s 2.29 ERA and 1.04 WHIP across the last two seasons could find a nice home in the Bronx as well.



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