The long awaited 2018 free agent class is underway, and the Yankees can go in any number of directions. There’s the also possibility of trades, but fans have had their eyes on this free agent season because of the high level of talent available for just money. No one knows quite how to spend money like the New York Yankees.
The World Series this year was won by the team with the highest payroll in the league. That team was not the Yankees, despite their long history with that distinction. Therefore, the best way to win in 2019 would be to reclaim that title, and by a longshot. Here is how New York can outspend the rest of the league by a mile.
Step One: Bats
The Yankees led the league last year in home runs, and set a league record while doing so. Despite the threat from the long ball, the Yankees were inconsistent at times with scoring, particularly with runners in scoring position. To remedy this, we simply have to add as many bats as possible.
For starters, we have to look at Bryce Harper. Harper and the Yankees have been connected over the years, though the Yankees’ crowded depth chart makes him an odd fit. The re-signing of Brett Gardner gives the Yankees plenty of options in the outfield, but even so, Harper’s prodigious talent would still be a major boon.
Harper turned down a reported ten-year, $300 million extension from Washington in the middle of last season, so the bidding will have to match or exceed that amount. Because of this, the Yankees will offer Harper a ten-year, $350 million deal with an opt out available after the first three years. One spot down.
The next order of business is to turn to Manny Machado. Machado had a controversial postseason run with the Dodgers that included some potentially dirty plays and talk about lack of hustle. Some teams would consider this a strong position to negotiate down on price for the star slugger. Those teams would be wrong. The Yankees capitalize on others’ hesitancy, and ink Machado to an eight-year, $300 million contract to cover shortstop until Didi Gregorius returns, and then shift him over to third base. 2-2 on superstars signed.
You might think that would be more than enough to spend on offense. What might go unnoticed is that situation at catcher. Gary Sanchez underwent offseason surgery, and though he is projected to be ready to go on Opening Day, it might be wiser to ease him back in to avoid further injuries. So, the Yankees should go onto the catching market, and sign Yasmani Grandal to a three-year, $45 million deal.
Step two: Starters
This is where the majority of fans are looking for improvement. Often the Yankees have gone into a season with a solid pair of starters, potentially three, and filled the back rotation with serviceable arms without much backup in the case of injury. Not this coming season, because there are plenty of quality arms to slot into the rotation available right now.
The first (and easiest) signing to make comes with Patrick Corbin. There were rumblings at the beginning of the season connecting Corbin to the Yankees, and Corbin has said that he would love to play for the organization. Slap $100 million on the table for him, offer him four or five years, and tell him you’ll see him in a few months. Done deal.
From here, the negotiating should be tougher, but the Yankees have the firepower to get it done. Dallas Keuchel is a pitcher with plenty of postseason experience, and the Yankees could use a deceptive arm like his to contribute come playoff time. Five years and $100 million should be hard to say no to for a 31-year old with a ring already.
Clayton Kershaw signed a one-year, $31 million extension in addition to his two option years of equal value, but if he had more time to read the market I think he’d reconsider. Since he can’t though, the Yankees only course of action is to buy out his contract and double it, CBA be damned.
With the front of the rotation in line, the main concern becomes depth. Therefore, the Yankees will sign J.A. Happ, Charlie Morton, and Nathan Eovaldi, for deals of three years, $45 million, two years, $40 million, and four years, $80 million, respectively. No need to worry about long relief.
Step three: Miscellaneous
Once both of these areas of concern are handled, the offseason becomes a task of filling any hole imaginable. David Robertson gets an immediate offer of three-years, $45 million, and a bobblehead night whenever Kunj Shah can make it to a game. Adam Ottavino joins him in pinstripes next year with an identical deal, and Oliver Perez is still going strong so why not throw him a one-year, $5 million deal.
The Yankees have also been plagued by the little things, such as baserunning errors. To fix this, Jose Iglesias comes on board for two years and $20 million, and Cameron Maybin joins the team on a one-year, $8 million deal. Come September, no one will run the bases like the Yankees will. They also sign Alcides Escobar to a one-year, $5 million deal to be the league’s first designated bunter. Here’s to you, small ball crowd.
Also, the Yankees reunite with Chase Headley on a two-year, $10 million deal just to trade him to the Padres again for some lottery ticket prospect that quickly makes the jump to Double-A stardom.
At the end of this long list of spending, the Yankees would be adding a whopping $1.384 billion dollars in payroll. Get ‘er done, Cashman.