The 2023-24 MLB offseason is already underway, as teams and players are generating news via options, qualifying offers, and other logistics. The trade season, besides a couple of minor transactions, has remained calm, but with the recent GM Meetings, rumor season is in full swing.
The true frenzy should start any day now, and since there were several assorted Yankees-related rumors that hit the transom over the past 24 hours or so, PSA decided to assemble a small roundup of the reports.
The Yankees and Cardinals could match up for a trade
According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are looking for impact pitching and the Yankees are seeking a couple of outfielders. While he didn’t specifically mention any arms who the Cards might be eyeing from New York’s system, he did write two names that might interest the Bombers:
“The Yankees are shopping for two outfielders and want to add some “left-handed balance” to the lineup, general manager Brian Cashman said. Multiple sources said the Yankees see the Cardinals as a fit for trade talks involving Alec Burleson or Brendan Donovan.”
A second-round pick from the 2020 MLB Draft, Burleson had a .691 OPS (89 wRC+) in 107 games and 347 plate appearances in the majors during his rookie of season of 2023. He remains relatively young, as he’ll turn 25 later this month, and he has performed at a high level in the minors.
Donovan would be an enticing option, having won the Gold Glove at the utility position in 2022 for his ability to defend multiple positions in the infield and outfield. The lefty also has a good hit tool, achieving a 124 wRC+ in 839 career plate appearances, and he batted .284/.365/.422 in 2023. Donovan will be 27 in January.
Gleyber to the Red Sox?
There is a new baseball leadership group in Boston, headlined by former pitcher Craig Breslow. He is universally regarded as one of the smartest guys in the league, and per Audacy’s Rob Bradford, he certainly wouldn’t be opposed to making a trade with the Yankees if it can improve his team:
“According to major league sources, the Red Sox identified Yankees second baseman Gleyber Torres as a trade target last season - with (Alex) Verdugo being of interest to New York. It appears the teams might very well be looping back on that conversation this offseason.”
According to The Athletic, the Yankees have not engaged Torres in extension talks, so a trade cannot be ruled out. He hit 25 homers last year with a .800 OPS at the keystone, so he has some value even though he only has one season left of team control. So does Verdugo, who fits in what the Yanks are looking for: a lefty-hitting outfielder with starting talent.
Speaking of outfielders...
Yanks could go hard after Juan Soto if he is made available
Brendan Kuty and Chris Kirschner over at The Athletic also wrote about the chances of Juan Soto being traded by the San Diego Padres, and how the Yankees could be a potential fit. New York has not yet engaged in meaningful talks (there is, of course, interest), though that’s partially the result of what’s going on at the Friar’s end.
While the Padres still haven’t said whether they will keep or trade Soto, it’s already of public domain that they want to shed payroll, and dealing the All-Star outfielder could be a quick way of lowering their salary obligations.
Soto is projected to make around $33 million in 2024. “He’s a true middle-of-the-order three-hole bat, one of the most dynamic offensive forces in the game. But we always weigh out the here and now versus the long-term plan where that sets us. So I think we’ll keep having those conversations. He’s very important to us. (We’ll) kind of get a sense of what’s important to Juan and then make decisions accordingly as we get through the offseason,” said Preller, per Kuty and Kirschner’s colleague, Dennis Lin.
In short, no decision yet.
How about Bellinger?
The Yankees need two outfielders, as GM Brian Cashman recently stated, so he should at least take a look at free agent center fielder Cody Bellinger.
With a .881 OPS, 26 homers and 97 RBI this season with the Chicago Cubs, the production was there. However, The Athletic cautions that there are some risks in Bellinger’s hitting profile:
“In 2023, Bellinger was just in the 22nd percentile in average exit velocity at 87.9 mph; the 10th percentile in hard-hit rate at 31.4 percent; and the 27th percentile in barrel rate at 6.1 percent.”
Those numbers are worth exploring, and the former NL MVP had issues hitting pitches of 95 mph or more.
Kevin Kiermaier could be an option
It became clear, in September, that Jasson Domínguez is the future center fielder of the Yankees. However, he will be out for several months into the 2024 regular season and Cashman has already admitted that the team needs to solve the position in the offseason.
Tthe Yankees have internally discussed the possibility of going after the longtime division rival Kiermaier, per The Athletic. The lefty hitter is a certified excellent defensive player who had a solid season with the bat in 2023 with the Toronto Blue Jays after a decade on Tampa Bay, batting .265 with 35 extra-base hits and a .741 OPS in 129 games.