Which shortstops are on Yanks' radar?

November 30th, 2021

MLB.com is keeping track of all the latest Yankees-related free agent and trade rumors right here.

Nov. 29: How will Yankees address shortstop?
The Yankees need a shortstop, but they’ve refrained from taking an aggressive approach in the free-agent shortstop market this offseason. Two players many viewed as likely targets for New York -- Corey Seager and Marcus Semien -- at the start of the offseason are now off the board after reaching deals with the Rangers.

Javier Báez (Tigers) isn't bound for the Bronx either, so if the Yanks don’t plan on pursuing free agents Carlos Correa or Trevor Story, they’ll need a stopgap solution for 2022, as shortstop prospects Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza are not expected to be ready to contribute in the Bronx until 2023 at the earliest.

According to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman, New York is among the teams that have checked in on four-time Gold Glove Award winner Andrelton Simmons, also a free agent.

The Rangers’ Isiah Kiner-Falefa is another potential option, MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal writes in an article for The Athletic (subscription required). The 26-year-old won a Gold Glove Award at third base before moving to shortstop, where he continued to display strong defensive tools, in 2021. 

The acquisitions of Seager and Semien and the presence of third-base prospect Josh Jung could make Kiner-Falefa expendable. Rosenthal hears that the Yankees plan to reach out to the Rangers about trading for Kiner-Falefa, if they haven’t already. The two sides have recent experience as trade partners, with New York acquiring Joey Gallo and Joely Rodríguez from Texas for four prospects in July.

Nov. 28: Yanks monitoring evolving catcher market
The Yankees have until 8:00 p.m. ET on Nov. 30 to tender a 2022 contract to catcher Gary Sánchez or else he will become a free agent. With that deadline looming, the club is monitoring possible moves either via trade or free agency, according to a new report from MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal in The Athletic (subscription required).

Rosenthal writes that a lack of desirable options may force the Yankees to again offer a contract to Sánchez -- who is projected to earn $7.9 million in arbitration -- unless a sudden trade for someone like Sean Murphy or Willson Contreras comes together at the final hour.

Nov. 16: Yankees have reached out to A’s about Olson
The Yankees are “definitely interested” in A’s first baseman Matt Olson and have reached out to Oakland to inquire about him, according to a report from Jack Curry of the YES Network. However, there haven’t been any detailed conversations about which players would be involved in a potential trade.

New York’s interest in Olson was previously reported by SNY’s Andy Martino and MLB.com’s Jon Paul Morosi.

The left-handed slugger is just one option the Yanks are considering for first base this offseason. New York has reportedly met with representatives for free agent Freddie Freeman and other top left-handed-hitting first basemen such as Anthony Rizzo.

Rizzo was traded to the Yankees in July and reportedly is “eager” to return to the Bronx Bombers. However, Rizzo and Freeman are both 32 years old, and signing either will require a long-term guarantee. Olson, meanwhile, is 27 and in his second year of arbitration eligibility after earning $5 million in 2021.

Making a trade for Olson would require a significant prospect package, but the Yankees would be left with more financial resources to address other areas of need, such as shortstop and center field, than they would if they signed Rizzo or Freeman.

Nov. 15: Could Yanks make a run at Freeman?
While a lot of chatter surrounding the Yankees this offseason is focused on shortstop, the club also has a need for a left-handed-hitting first baseman. Anthony Rizzo is a candidate to re-sign as a free agent after being acquired before the Trade Deadline, and the Yankees also have been reported to have interest in acquiring Oakland’s Matt Olson via trade.

But what about Freddie Freeman? Admittedly, the 2020 NL MVP and 2021 World Series champion coming to the Bronx would appear to be much more of a stretch. At the same time, Freeman is currently a free agent, and the Yankees have already met with his representatives -- along with those of other lefty first basemen -- per a report from MLB Network Insider Jon Heyman.

Needless to say, Freeman would require a large investment, and while the Yankees certainly have the means to accommodate that, it’s worth wondering whether the club would do so while also going after the likes of Corey Seager or Carlos Correa. Still, the thought of Freeman taking aim at Yankee Stadium’s short porch over the next several years would have to be an enticing one.

Nov. 11: Yankees looking for new center fielder?
MLB.com’s Jon Paul Morosi hears that Pirates All-Star center fielder Bryan Reynolds is drawing significant trade interest, with the Yankees and Mariners among the potential suitors, but Pittsburgh isn’t inclined to move a player who has four years of club control remaining.

It's not particularly surprising that Reynolds is a popular trade target, considering he's a 26-year-old who produced a .302 average, 24 homers and a .912 OPS at the plate in 2021 and provided plus defense in center field.

The bigger news here might be that the Yanks are exploring center-field options, something general manager Brian Cashman indicated could be a possibility when he talked to reporters at the GM Meetings earlier this week.

Aaron Hicks’ seven-year, $70 million contract runs through 2025, but he’s now 32 years old and is coming off a season in which he posted a .627 OPS over 32 games before undergoing season-ending surgery for a torn tendon sheath in his left wrist. With veteran Brett Gardner (now a free agent) drawing frequent starts in center last season, Yankees center fielders ranked 20th in the Majors in OPS (.680).

Oct. 25: Rizzo 'quite eager' to return to Yankees in 2022 (report)
First baseman Anthony Rizzo seemed to enjoy his brief tenure in pinstripes, so much so that he could be looking to return to the Bronx. The Newark Star-Ledger's Bob Klapisch cites an unnamed member of Rizzo's family in reporting that the free-agent slugger is "quite eager" to return to the Yankees for the 2022 season (and perhaps beyond).

The Yanks acquired Rizzo via trade from the Cubs on July 29, and went 17 games above .500 the rest of the way en route to an appearance in the American League Wild Card Game. Rizzo cooled off to roughly league-average production after a red-hot first week in pinstripes, but the addition of him and Joey Gallo helped to balance a Yankees lineup that was previously overly dependent on right-handed hitting.

Rizzo has family in nearby New Jersey, a potential advantage for the Bronx Bombers in drawing him back, but plenty of teams could be looking to add a slugging first baseman this winter -- especially if Freddie Freeman re-signs with the Braves. In March, The Athletic reported that Rizzo turned down the Cubs' five-year, $70 million extension offer, offering a hint of what he could be looking for on the free-agent market.