The GM Meetings are taking place in Carlsbad, California, and Yankees GM Brian Cashman spoke to reporters yesterday. Cashman said he has “some latitude” on the team’s budget, after talking to owner Hal Steinbrenner. The club was able to stay below the base luxury tax threshold of $210MM this year, effectively resetting as a first-time payor for future penalties – if something resembling the current system remains in place in the next collective bargaining agreement.
Cashman acknowledged to reporters that he’s already had talks with the agents for two free agent shortstops. Those players are Carlos Correa and Corey Seager, according to The Athletic’s Jim Bowden. ESPN’s Buster Olney is hearing that the Yankees’ pursuit of a shortstop will remain focused on elite players of this nature. Chandler Rome from the Houston Chronicle has more from Cashman on the Yankees’ interest in Correa. Cashman explained, “(Correa) is just a very talented player, obviously. Puts up numbers with the best of them. He’s obviously had an incredible career thus far. Certainly not afraid. He’s pushed forward, regardless of the circumstances. He’s clearly not afraid because (the sign-stealing fallout) has not affected his play.”
There’s been a sentiment that perhaps Yankees fans would not tolerate or accept Correa. That doesn’t seem to be Cashman’s primary concern, as the fans’ reaction “is not going to enter my calculus right now.”
Correa, who seems unlikely to sign before a potential December lockout, is reported to have received a five-year, $160MM offer from the Astros that seems more for show than anything. As the top player on the free agent market, Correa is in line for $300MM or more.
Cashman has also spoken to the agent for first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who appeared in 50 games for the Yankees after a July trade. The GM noted, “He obviously was really good for us, we feel, both on the offensive side and on the defensive side and on the leadership side, so he brings a lot of good things to the table. I know he liked it here, I know we liked having him, but nothing has gone past that.” Rizzo, 32, put up a 113 wRC+ for the Yankees. In projecting a three-year, $45MM contract, MLBTR took into account intangibles like Rizzo’s reputation around the game.
The Yankees still have an incumbent first baseman in Luke Voit, who was limited to 68 games on the season due to injuries. MLBTR projects Voit to earn $5.4MM next year, and it’s possible the Yankees move on from him. Voit’s troublesome left knee is “resolved,” according to Cashman.
Perhaps the most intriguing possibility for the Yankees at first base is a trade for Matt Olson of the Athletics. Olson, 28 in March, posted a 146 wRC+ with 39 home runs this year and is projected to earn $12MM through arbitration. According to Brendan Kuty of NJ.com, the Yankees have internally discussed trading for Olson.
The Yankees would also like to add some help in center field, tweets Jon Heyman of MLB Network. Aaron Hicks, who played in only 32 games this year, is still owed $41MM through 2025. Hicks, whose season ended in May due to wrist surgery, hopes to play winter ball, noted Lindsey Adler of The Athletic back in October. The Yankees filled the void this year with 38-year-old Brett Gardner, who recently declined his $2.3MM player option in favor of a $1.15MM buyout. The free agent market for center fielders also includes Starling Marte, Juan Lagares, Chris Taylor, Kevin Pillar, and eventually Odubel Herrera. The trade market could include Kevin Kiermaier, Ketel Marte, and Byron Buxton.