After several expensive additions this off-season, the Yanks They are reportedly reluctant to free-hand a left fielder for financial reasons.
After Jon Heyman from the New York PostNew York is “stubborn” about staying under the “$293 million Steve Cohen tax threshold.”
Between the signing of starter Carlos Rodón and the return of first baseman Anthony Rizzo and captain Aaron Judge (who will each earn $40 million over the next nine seasons), the Yankees have a shot Salary total just over $290 million.
If the Yankees hold out for the rest of the winter, they will enter spring training with a contest for game time in left field. Following the departure of Andrew Benintendi in free agency, Aaron Hicks, Oswaldo Cabrera and Estevan Florial are in contention for the opening day position. Others like Willie Calhoun and Rafael Ortega, who signed minor-league contracts with the Yankees this offseason, also have an outside chance to earn a roster spot.
Should the Yankees change their mind or take a step or two to free up some cash, there aren’t that many outfielders left on the open market who would be an upgrade over these internal options. Jurickson Profar is a name that has been associated with New York lately. Heyman reported that the Yankees “discussed” signing Profar, confirming an account by Jon Morosi MLB Networkanother insider who said the Yankees are “Monitoring” on the Switch-hitting outfielder.
29-year-old Profar has had one of the best seasons of his nine-year career. The all-round defender batted .243/.331/.391 with the Padres in 2022. With 152 games played, 2.5 fWAR, 140 hits, 36 doubles and 73 walks, he set a new career high.
An exchange for an outfielder is also still on the table. Bryan Reynolds from the Pirates could be moved by opening day, though Pittsburgh is asking for a king’s ransom in return for the All-Star, a stud with three seasons of control remaining.
It was important for the Yankees to invest in the return of Judge and Rizzo this offseason and upgrade their rotation with a quality pitcher like Rodón. The Yankees also signed right-hander Tommy Kahnle and injected another high-leverage, high-head arm to the back of their bullpen.
However, it can be argued that New York failed to address its greatest weakness this winter, a blunder that was exploited last year. This is a team that would have benefited from the addition of a contact-first outfielder, a hard out from the left side of the plate to balance their lineup. That’s why the Yankees sought to re-sign Benintendi and why starting the season with Hicks as the starting left fielder was never the preferred option.
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