The Yankees are likely trying to stay under the luxury tax in 2021.
With the lack of many notable players signing, I thought it would be good to look at the options and figure out those cost efficient targets that would be a good fit for the Yankees.
These options range from free agents to trade candidates as well.
Joe Musgrove // SP
Musgrove is a well-known target and one of the best pitchers on the trade market. Musgrove is 28 years old and is arbitration-eligible through 2022, meaning that he will not take up too much payroll. The Yankees have been rumored to have been in discussions with Pittsburgh this offseason. It was about pitcher Jameson Taillon and first baseman Josh Bell, not Musgrove. The fact that the Yankees had discussions with Pittsburgh likely means that the idea of trading for him has been discussed.
Evaluating pitchers just by earned run average is not the best anymore, and if you do that with Musgrove, it won’t seem great with a career 4.33 ERA. Underlying numbers show Musgrove’s potential.
Under Pittsburgh’s new pitching coach in 2020, Musgrove changed his usage by using more sliders and curveballs.
Musgrove had a career-best 3.19 xFIP (expected fielding independent pitching) in 2020, which is considered great by Fangraphs, along with another career-best 12.48 strikeouts per nine innings.
Andrelton Simmons // SS
This is more likely to happen if the Yankees do not bring back DJ LeMahieu. Simmons would be a good one-year stopgap player. MLB Trade rumors predicted Simmons signing with the Yankees for one year at $12 million. The Yankees have always loved Simmons. There was a trade with the Atlanta Braves on the table in 2014 where the Yankees would have received Simmons, Jason Heyward, and BJ Upton. The Yankees would have given the Braves Aaron Judge, Luis Severino, and Gary Sanchez. Thank goodness that one did not happen. Instead, Simmons was traded to the Los Angeles Angels, run by Billy Eppler, a former assistant to Yankees GM Brian Cashman.
Simmons has had ankle injuries the past two years from stepping on the first base bag’s backside. If he can avoid doing that, there is optimism for him to be healthy. Simmons is not known for his offense but has a reputation as the best defensive shortstop in baseball. That reputation is justified as Simmons averaged 25.85 defensive runs saved from 2012-2018.
Those numbers were not great in 2020, but Simmons played 30 games, and defensive statistics with a tiny sample size do not have much value. Simmons is a good fit on a one-year deal to play shortstop to free up money for the monster free-agent shortstop class in 2021 that includes Francisco Lindor, Trevor Story, Corey Seager, Carlos Correa, and Javier Baez.
This would also slide Gleyber Torres back to his better position of second base and would be a nice fix for the infield defense, which was a problem for the Yankees in 2020.
Joc Pederson // OF
I could throw a name everyone knows, like Corey Kluber, who I think the Yankees should sign, but I wanted to pick a less likely name. I do not expect Pederson to sign with the Yankees considering the depth they have in the outfield. But he would be a nice platoon player in left field with Clint Frazier and an upgrade over depth piece Mike Tauchman at the plate. MLB Trade Rumors has him signing with the St. Louis Cardinals for two years at $18 million.
I do not buy the narrative that the Yankees really need to add a left-handed bat considering that the right-handed hitters they do have hit righty pitching well. But if the Yankees were to add a lefty bat and did not want to bring back Brett Gardner, Pederson is a good option as he has a career 118 wRC+. Pederson would strictly play against right-handed pitching, as 121 of his 130 career home runs came against righties.
Pederson is also a player that would likely benefit from the short port in right field at Yankee Stadium. Pederson also has solid postseason numbers with 9 home runs and a .852 OPS in 64 games.
If the market isn’t there for Pederson and his price ends up being below the $9 million a year that MLB Trade Rumors predicts, which is not too expensive in the first place, then why not consider adding him?
Featured Image: Frank Franklin II/AP