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What is the most likely outcome of this offseason?

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Brian Cashman could lead the Yankees’ lineup in one of many directions.

American League Division Series Game 2: New York Yankees v. Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The anxiety of the Yankees’ offseason is under full swing. More so than any season in recent years, the Yankees have glaring needs at two cornerstone positions in shortstop and center field. As I wrote back in October, the Yankees desperately need to acquire elite up-the-middle talent. While the odds are not in favor of acquiring players like Carlos Correa or Corey Seager, those outcomes cannot be ruled out for sure. Because of this and other reasons, there lies many alternate realities which may come about from this offseason.

Aaron Hicks’ injury history and the lack of a true shortstop on the roster have created a sort of wormhole for the Yankees’ future. While I remain skeptical they will participate in any big spending, we can still picture a world where one those two elite players fall into the Yankees’ laps. If that’s the case, then what will the Yankees’ lineup look like?

Let’s start with the sexiest possible addition in Carlos Correa. If the rumors are true and he gets $250 million or more, then it’s more than likely that the Yankees don’t do much elsewhere when it comes to roster additions. In that case, the starting lineup probably looks something like this:

Catcher: Gary Sánchez

First Base: DJ LeMahieu/Luke Voit

Second Base: Gleyber Torres

Shortstop: Carlos Correa

Third Base: Gio Urshela

Left field: Joey Gallo

Center field: Aaron Hicks

Right field: Aaron Judge

Designated Hitter: Giancarlo Stanton

There is no denying the potential of this lineup. It’s very possible that a dynamic player like Carlos Correa could catapult this lineup immediately and further additions aren’t desperately needed. But I think the odds this happens are slim at this point considering recent reports. Note that lineup is likely to look identical if Seager is added.

One financially feasible possibility (according to Hal Steinbrenner’s actions) would be bringing back Anthony Rizzo on top of one of these elite shortstops, but realistically one happens and not the other. In that case, what could we expect along with Anthony Rizzo? If Cashman wants to be conservative on the shortstop and first base front, then perhaps he can get aggressive at center field and send what would be a significant group of prospects for Bryan Reynolds. Here’s what that lineup looks like:

Catcher: Gary Sánchez

First Base: Anthony Rizzo

Second Base: Gleyber Torres

Shortstop: Stopgap veteran

Third Base: Gio Urshela

Left field: Joey Gallo

Center field: Bryan Reynolds

Right field: Aaron Judge

Designated Hitter: Giancarlo Stanton

I think DJ LeMahieu turns back into the do-it-all infielder in pretty much any scenario this offseason. This lineup would also mean the Yankees would need a stopgap shortstop to hold it down till one of Volpe or Peraza are ready. Of all the blockbuster scenarios, I’d bet on this one to happen over any other. Rizzo won’t take any more than $15 million a year for a couple years. Reynolds is under control through 2025 and is due $4.5 million in 2022. A full season of this lineup would be very exciting and would keep the payroll reasonable to Hal Steinbrenner.

Of course, there is the possibility of Matt Olson as a Yankee as well. I think the successful trade history between Cashman and the Athletics/Pirates is enough to believe that discussions for these star players could make progress — for that reason, we will dream of Olson in pinstripes. Olson is going to make $12 million in 2022 and closer to $20 million in 2023, so I can’t imagine the Yankees will add him and a star free agent or expensive trade acquisition, so the lineup would probably look something like this:

Catcher: Gary Sánchez

First Base: Matt Olson

Second Base: Gleyber Torres

Shortstop: Stopgap veteran

Third Base: Gio Urshela

Left field: Joey Gallo

Center field: Aaron Hicks

Right field: Aaron Judge

Designated Hitter: Giancarlo Stanton

If Matt Olson keeps his walk and strikeout rates where they were in 2021, this lineup has a lot of potential. But the risk of him returning to his 2017-2020 plate discipline would need to be hedged with a shortstop with a decently high floor. The same goes for the return of Anthony Rizzo if his offense is a deflated version of his past. Both reasons make Trevor Story an ideal fit for the Yankees.

Even if they are concerned with long-term defense of Story, he could be a great fit given their self-imposed financial restrictions. I’m not going to mock out another lineup here because it’s very difficult to say what would happen on top of giving Story over $100 million, but he’s the type of high floor stopgap shortstop that could work out well and be moved to a different position if needed in the near future. I know it’s weird to call Story a stopgap player, but the low floors of other veteran shortstops are not a viable option if they don’t acquire a star like Reynolds or Olson via trade.

Needless to say, there are too many directions for this offseason and it’s frightening. Is the most likely outcome the Yankees getting none of these stars and end up with a full season of Rizzo and a random veteran shortstop? I don’t like the sound of that, but honestly, with the tone coming from rumors on top of Hal Steinbrenner’s actions, it’s tough to get our hopes up. The one great thing is the Yankees’ prospect depth because that could be turned around into a star player if they are willing to take that type of risk.

With all that in mind, the most positive takeaway is this: even if the Yankees pass up on Seager and Correa, there are other realities that could lead to an improved offense and defense if they are aggressive on the trade market. It’s not time to get too worried yet, but the number of potential outcomes means a lot of uncertainty for the Yankees future.