Last offseason was uncharacteristically quiet for the Yankees in free agency with very few notable signings other than bringing back Anthony Rizzo. As the season nears its quarter mark, its a great time to check in on some of the best potential free agent position players that the Yankees could have signed.
I am focusing on five of the most valuable position players (apart from Starling Marte) that the Yankees could have signed and how they have done with their current teams.
The Yankees were clearly unhappy with relying upon Luke Voit to man first base when they acquired Anthony Rizzo last season. If the Yankees had chosen to flex their significant financial might, they probably could have signed Freddie Freeman, but they instead signed Rizzo. The Los Angeles Dodgers signed Freeman for $162 million over six years.
So far, Freeman has played pretty well. In 153 at-bats, he has a .301/.391/.464 slash line. However, Freddie Freeman only has three home runs at this point, indicated in the slightly lower than expected OPS. Even though the homers have not been there yet, Freeman is still hitting extremely well. This has all the marks of being a great signing for the Dodgers.
After Semien played his heart out with the Toronto Blue Jays last season to the tune of a .265/.334/.538 with a .873 OPS, he signed a seven-year deal with the Texas Rangers for $175 million. Its hard to describe how badly Semien has hit this year. Right now, in 154 at-bats, Semien has a triple slash line of .182/.243/.234. That's not only below the Mendoza line, but is also probably below the newly established Higgy line.
To be fair to Semien, he has started to hit much better in the last seven games. During that time he has a .296/.367/.333 slash line. Unfortunately, he has yet to a home run this year. As of right now, things are starting to look concerning for Texas. These are small samples struggles, but seeing Semien regress so mightily at the start of this long commitment has to worry the Rangers at least a little.
Probably the most frustrating signing by another team this offseason was when the Minnesota Twins signed Carlos Correa to a three-year deal worth $105.3 million which include opt outs after the first and second seasons. Not only did it feel like the kind of deal that the Yankees could have very easily made, but the Twins made a deal with the Yankees in large part to dump salary before signing Correa.
In 108 at-bats, Correa has a .269/.342/.389 triple slash line, with two homers. A familiar bugaboo has emerged for Correa, as he has already spent time on the injured list for a finger contusion. He’s not playing poorly, but he’s been uneven and had some injury troubles. Ultimately, this signing for the Twins has been neither good or bad at this point, which should hearten Minnesota, given they lead the AL Central without seeing their star import heat up just yet.
Trevor Story signed a six-year deal with the Red Sox that will pay him $140 million, with an opt-out after the fourth year. Trevor Story has had a bit of weird year so far. In 137 at-bats, he has a slash line of .226/.310/.438 with seven home runs. Most of his production has come within the last seven games. In that time, he has hit six home runs with a .360/.452/1.120 slash line.
It’s possible that Story has started to become more comfortable with his new team after leaving the Rockies. Spending half of one’s games at altitude and the other half elsewhere is a peculiar task, and leaving that environment for something more stable may have required an adjustment period. If Story can provide the pop a little more consistently, the Red Sox will likely be pleased with their new shortstop.
Corey Seager was probably the biggest winner of free agency last offseason when he signed a 10-year deal worth $325 million. Seager has been an OK player for the Rangers this year, with a .245/.315/.430 triple slash line and eight home runs. This has worked out to an OPS of .745, which is not too bad for a year where offense has been depressed all across baseball. Seager also has a fairly low BABIP at .254, which indicate that he has hit into a bit of bad luck so far.
In all, there has only been one signing that is looking potentially disastrous, with Marcus Semien performing very poorly. Story, Seager, and Correa have each performed OK but have not played up to their standards, but they could still turn around and have great years. Freeman has had a characteristically great season so far, though he could do with a bit more power.