The Yankees have reached the playoffs in four straight seasons, yet repeatedly come up short of their ultimate goal each time. One of the biggest free agents on the market this offseason has consistently gone one round farther than the Yankees every year since 2017, including bringing home the World Series in 2017. So how might George Springer fit into the Yankees’ offseason plan?
Springer is a native of the northeast growing up in central Connecticut and playing his college ball at UCONN. While in college, he developed into an elite prospect and was taken 11th overall by Houston in the 2011 MLB draft. Following this past season, Springer turned down a qualifying offer from the Astros and entered free agency.
Since making his major league debut in 2014 Springer has amassed 26.6 fWAR, including three seasons where he earned down the ballot MVP votes. Springer at his best is an impact bat, who has never posted an wRC+ under 118.
In addition to his offensive impact, Springer would be a defensive upgrade over Aaron Hicks in center. Springer has recorded 13 DRS over the last two seasons at the position. Over that same stretch Hicks posted a -8 DRS, including an alarming -7 in 50 games this past season.
Springer has played mostly in center and right field in his career, positions where the Yankees have players under team control for the significant future. Aaron Hicks is under a long-term and very team friendly contract while Aaron Judge is the face of the franchise and still a relatively cheap option as he climbs the arbitration ladder. Clint Frazier’s emergence in 2020 both offensively and defensively only adds to the Yankees outfield depth.
Considering all of the Yankees injuries over the last few seasons, they should not be discouraged from adding depth to any position. The problem comes with the Yankees hitting free-agency with limits on the resources they wish to deploy. MLB Trade Rumors predicted that Springer will get five years and $125M this offseason. That is a major allocation when the Yankees are heading towards next season looking to shore up their rotation and bring back DJ LeMahieu.
In years past he is exactly the player that the Yankees may have been targeting, an impact bat, with a winning pedigree. Springer will be 31 for most of the coming season and should remain productive for most of his next contract, especially if it is limited to four or five years.
One other consideration that the front-office will be looking at is Springer’s involvement in the Astros’ 2017 cheating scandal. Would the Yankees want to bring him in and open a spring training full of questions about the past? Just this past spring, numerous Yankees spoke out against the lack of penalties received by the Astros’ players for their role in the scandal.
Springer’s performance has not slacked since 2017, indicating that he was far from a one-trick pony who needed to cheat in order to perform at a high offensive level. In the last two seasons he has posted a 156 and 146 wRC+ respectively with a total of 8.4 fWAR.
George Springer would be an impressive addition to the Yankees lineup, but he is not the priority of the Yankees front office this offseason. With pitching and infield needs at the top of the Yankees’ wish-list, the best outfielder available is not where the Yankees are looking to use their resources. If they do choose to pursue Springer, they will be bringing in an immediate upgrade to their lineup and defense that could provide the margin of victory come the tight October series the Yankees have played in repeatedly over the last four seasons.