Soon after the Yankees were eliminated from the postseason last October, Brian Cashman and Aaron Boone began talking about how the roster needed to improve, suggesting to fans and the media alike that the team was ready to go big this offseason. They then proceeded to sit out the turbulent period of pre-lockout free agency, watching Corey Seager, Robbie Ray, Marcus Semien, and others find new homes. The 99 days of the lockout froze Major League rosters, and when the lockout was lifted this past Thursday, fans eagerly awaited another transaction whirlwind as teams looked to finalize their roster before spring training began this past weekend.
Unfortunately, all weekend, the Bronx had been filled with unsubstantiated and often-conflicting rumors, but no news — until now. Finally, at long last, on March 13th, the Yankees made their first acquisition of the winter, signing Tim Locastro to a one-year major league deal.
The New York Yankees announced today that they have signed OF Tim Locastro to a one-year Major League contract.— New York Yankees (@Yankees) March 13, 2022
Welcome back, @TimmyLo16!!! pic.twitter.com/PbdxlXLwPu
The Yankees very clearly like Locastro, quite possibly to an unhealthy degree, as this is their third time acquiring him. He spent a few weeks on the 40-man roster during the 2018-19 offseason, traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks to clear a roster spot two days after the Yankees signed DJ LeMahieu. He spent parts of three seasons in Arizona as a fourth outfielder before being traded back to the Yankees on July 1, 2021, as the team desperately needed an outfielder who could play center field with Aaron Hicks out for the season and Brett Gardner struggling.
Unfortunately, Locastro’s season ended just 10 days later after he tore his ACL while making a nice play in the outfield. In nine games with the Yankees, he posted a .190/.217/.429 slash line with one home run and two doubles (good for a 72 OPS+), and despite his speed, he did not attempt a stolen base.
As part of the roster move merry-go-round from the start of the winter, Locastro was claimed off waivers by the Boston Red Sox on November 5th. Boston, however, did not tender him a contract, causing him to hit free agency two days before the lockout began.
Locastro’s calling card is, of course, still his speed: He is quite literally the fastest player in baseball according to Statcast, with a blazing 30.7 ft/second sprint speed. Between that and his defensive flexibility — he can provide competent, albeit not outstanding, defense at all three outfield positions — Locastro brings a new dimension to a lineup that consists mostly of power hitters who struggle on the basepaths. How successfully he can bring that dimension, however, depends entirely on his ability to improve his performance at the plate, so here’s hoping that the new Yankees hitting coaches can unlock his bat a bit.
Because the Yankees had an empty spot on the 40-man roster, the team does not need to make another move to bring Locastro on board.