5 moves Yanks could make to return to postseason in '24

November 14th, 2023

It’s only natural for the Yankees to be connected to every marquee free agent on the market, so we’re bound to hear a number of rumors surrounding New York and .

We’re here to tell you not to believe them.

The Yankees have plenty of holes to fill this winter, but the designated hitter spot is not one of them, leaving no spot for Ohtani in New York’s lineup. might not be the MVP-caliber player he once was, but he has still averaged 30 home runs per season over the past three years. With four years and $128 million remaining on his contract, Stanton isn’t going anywhere any time soon.

Now, just because the Yankees aren’t expected to be involved in the Ohtani sweepstakes, the Bronx Bombers should have a very active offseason nonetheless. MLB.com looks at some moves that could help the Yankees get back to the postseason in 2024.

Trade for

Brian Cashman indicated during the General Managers Meetings that the Yankees would look to add two outfielders this winter, so why not shoot for the moon and try to land Soto? The Padres plan to discuss an extension with the All-Star outfielder, but it would be a surprise for the Scott Boras client to forego free agency, so San Diego could decide to trade Soto with only one year before he tests the open market.

Although the Padres traded away a wealth of prospect capital to acquire Soto in 2022, GM A.J. Preller might be looking for players who can help his club win now. Perhaps the Yankees – who have already touched base with the Padres regarding Soto – can put together a package that includes right-hander , utilityman , right-hander and No. 1 prospect , a 6-foot-6, 235-pound slugger who reached Double-A last year at age 22. Jones profiles as a perfect fit for Yankee Stadium, but Soto is a proven commodity who would be the perfect tonic for the Yankees’ lineup woes.

Giving Soto a full season in the Bronx might give the Yankees an edge when it comes to signing him to a long-term deal. His swing is ideal for the Bronx and he just turned 25. How do you think pitchers would like navigating their way through Soto and on a nightly basis?

Ohtani isn’t the only premier Japanese free agent this winter, as Yamamoto – the best pitcher in Nippon Professional Baseball for the past three years – is expected to be posted by the Orix Buffaloes in the coming weeks.

Yamamoto went 17-6 with a 1.16 ERA in 24 starts, one of which was a no-hitter with Cashman watching from the stands. The 25-year-old has won the pitching triple crown in the Pacific League in each of the past three seasons, earning Sawamura Award honors (Japan’s equivalent of the Cy Young) each time.

Yamamoto is expected to command more than $200 million in free agency, but the Yankees have shown a willingness to spend big on such a pitcher in the past, giving Masahiro Tanaka a seven-year, $155 million free-agent deal a decade ago. and will be back in 2024, but adding Yamamoto to the rotation would bolster it even more.

Third base was an issue for the Yankees last season, with five different players starting games at the hot corner and combining for 17 home runs, 59 RBIs and a .655 OPS – well below league average in all three categories.

and are gone, while 's best fit might be as a Swiss Army knife, jumping around the infield and DHing while playing four or five days per week. Candelario hit 22 home runs with an .807 OPS for the Nationals and Cubs in 2023, the third time in four years he’s posted an OPS of at least .795. Candelario doesn’t provide the same defense at third that would, but he won’t cost nearly as much as Chapman, either.

Trade to the Dodgers

The Yankees and Red Sox have made three trades this century, the most meaningful of which involved Stephen Drew and Kelly Johnson in 2014. The internet has been buzzing with talk of a deal that would send Torres to Boston for , but that seems like a long shot at best.

That said, Torres is entering his final year before free agency, and with no extension on the horizon, the Yankees should find out what kind of trade value he might have, especially given the weak free-agent market for second basemen. Los Angeles plans to play at second base quite a bit in 2024, but adding Torres would allow the Dodgers to use Betts in right field, where he’s won six Gold Gloves.

The Yankees could take back second baseman/third baseman , the Dodgers' No. 2 prospect, who might very well find himself playing first base before too long. With under contract for one more year (the Yankees hold a $17 million club option on him for 2025), Busch – a lefty slugger who has put up impressive power number in the Minors – could be a potential replacement at first. Trading Torres would open up second base for and/or LeMahieu. While Busch would be a player the Yankees target, they might need to include other pieces to make it work.

Center field was supposed to have been solved once  arrived in the Majors, but the Yankees’ No. 2 prospect suffered a torn UCL after playing only eight games, sidelining him for much of 2024 following Tommy John surgery. 

That leaves the Yankees with a hole in center field for at least the first three or four months next season, one Kiermaier could fill admirably. Even at 34, Kiermaier remains one of the best defensive center fielders in the game, and having played his entire career in the AL East, he’s quite comfortable hitting at Yankee Stadium (.848 OPS in 60 games).