It has been a quiet offseason for baseball as a whole, including the New York Yankees.
There should be some activity over the next few weeks for a couple of reasons.
The first reason is that it seems that the MLB is trying to go ahead with a normal 162 game schedule despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, commissioner Rob Manfred has told teams to prepare for a normal 162 game season.
This is something that many will believe when they see it, but it is a reasonable thought. The league asked the players union if there was interest in delaying the season for a month, and it was shot down. The players want to play, mainly because they want full salaries that they did not get last year with the 60 game season.
The NFL is going to finish a full season, the NBA is playing a 72 game season, and the NHL is about to start a 56 game season. The MLB proved that it was possible to play baseball in a pandemic with the 60 game season last year. It is reasonable that the players and the league will do everything they can to start on time.
If this comes to fruition, this means that teams will start Spring Training soon. The Yankees pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to Spring Training just over a month from now on Feb. 15.
It is hard for me to believe that the season would not have been delayed already if they were planning on that.
Even if it were to get delayed at some point, there is no indication of that coming, and teams are preparing as if it were a normal season. Teams prefer to make their moves before players report for Spring Training. If not, then at the very least a couple of days later. That means that there are just over four weeks for the Yankees to make moves.
Another reason that there should be a movement for the Yankees soon is that multiple potential targets are progressing further in their free agency.
According to Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports, DJ LeMahieu’s free agency seems to be hitting a necessary step, as he is said to have been engaging with other teams interested in him. The Yankees will not bid against themselves, so LeMahieu’s meeting with other teams this week shows that he will find out his price on the market. When that is found out, the Yankees will likely decide on whether to match the best offer or not. I expect LeMahieu to re-sign with New York, but if not, I would not be surprised if the Yankees do pivot and sign a shortstop like Andrelton Simmons, Marcus Semien, or Didi Gregorius for one year shortly after.
The Yankees need starting pitching as well, and a potential target in Corey Kluber is throwing for major league teams today. It would be reasonable to think that he could sign with a team shortly after that. Kluber is already training with Yankees director of health and performance Eric Cressey after dealing with injuries in the past two seasons. Kluber and Yankees pitching coach Matt Blake also have a history together.
Kluber pitched for the Cleveland Indians when Blake was their director of pitching performance in 2016-2019.
There are more possibilities for the Yankees that could happen at any time, like making a trade or re-signing Masahiro Tanaka. I have gone back and forth on whether I think Tanaka will return or not, but you never know what someone’s market looks like in this climate. Tanaka would be great to have back, but he is not the caliber of pitcher he used to be, so it would not surprise me if there are not many good offers out there for him right now. If that is the case, I would not be surprised to see Tanaka take the best he can get with the Yankees, the team he is familiar with.
The Yankees also made some minor moves recently in adding outfielder Greg Allen via trade and signing pitcher Jhoulys Chacín to a minor league deal. These are depth moves for the Yankees. Maybe now that they have added some depth in the case of injuries, they will focus on the bigger moves that are needed.
It looks as if baseball will try a 162 game season as currently scheduled.
That means we should see some activity from the Yankees soon as they prepare for Spring Training and Opening Day against the Toronto Blue Jays on April 1.
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