Welcome to SB Nation Reacts, a survey of fans across Major League Baseball. Throughout the year we ask questions of the most plugged-in New York Yankees fans and fans across the country. Sign up here to participate in the weekly emailed surveys.
Recent history around the game of baseball has taught organizations like the Yankees that it’s often better to extend players while they are still under team control rather than waiting until they reach free agency and gain the ability to negotiate elsewhere. Of course, it’s usually easier said than done, and as Aaron Hicks recently demonstrated, there is still risk involved. But business made before the player reaches the open market is often more beneficial to the team itself.
The Yankees have handed out a modest number of extensions in recent years, even if they failed to get one done with their most prominent player, Aaron Judge (we all know how that saga finished: with a $360 million contract). They are currently faced with a couple potential candidates to receive one within the next year or so.
Gleyber Torres is 26 and under control for one more season after 2023. He started off his Yankees career with 62 homers in two seasons, then his performance dipped for two years and has been a 115 hitter in 2022 and 2023. His offensive ceiling is not what it used to be, but his floor is relatively safe and he plays solid defense at second.
Harrison Bader is a Gold Glove-caliber defense with a league-average bat, although he does seem to have increased his ceiling a bit in the Bronx. Many Yankees fans love him and the soon-to-be 29-year-old performed admirably in the 2022 playoffs, but his injury history might raise an eyebrow.
We ask you, our readers: If you had to pick just one, which player* should the team extend? Or should they simply run out the clock, pick neither, and revisit in eventual free agency?
*We know that there are other extension candidates, but these are the ones we’re asking about today.
The second question for our readers has to do with the competitive AL East division and three specific teams. Out of the Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles, and Boston Red Sox, which one is most likely to be a playoff-caliber squad?
We know that the Tampa Bay Rays, who still have MLB’s best record at 35-14, might be in a tier of their own. Barring a huge surprise, they will at least make the playoffs, so they’re not included in this survey. However, the rest of the clubs in the AL East are also legitimately good. Some of them are great, both all of them are competitive.
The O’s currently have the second-best record in the AL at 31-16, a boatload of talented young players contributing in the majors - Adley Rutschman, Gunnar Henderson, Cedric Mullins, Tyler Wells, Félix Bautista, and the incredible Yennier Cano, just to name a few - and more help on the way. This is an organization that has DL Hall, Colton Cowser, Heston Kjerstad, and Jordan Westburg in the minors, and we are not even including uber-prospect Jackson Holliday.
The Red Sox have been better than anticipated, as Masataka Yoshida has been as good as advertised and Rafael Devers has been, well, Rafael Devers (13 home runs). The key to their recent surge has been their pitching: Chris Sale is turning things around, they appear to have recovered vintage James Paxton, and Brayan Bello is slowly developing. They could be a pesky threat all year long.
The Blue Jays, surprisingly, are last in the division with a 25-23 record (though that would still lead the AL Central). Part of that standing can be attributed to Alek Manoah and George Springer’s struggles, but even Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is somewhat underperforming his considerable 2021 ceiling. With Bo Bichette, Matt Chapman, Kevin Gausman, and Chris Bassitt all turning in good seasons to date, they remain very, very dangerous and deep. Remember, they were the runners-up to the Yankees in the AL East last year, not Tampa Bay.
If you had to choose just one, which one is more likely to get into the postseason? Vote below!