There are other questions in the Yankees’ universe besides what will become of Gary Sanchez.
Like the skinny slab of rubber on a hill that sits 60-feet, 6-inches from the plate in front of where Sanchez squats.
Beyond staff ace Gerrit Cole, the makeup of the rotation is at best fuzzy heading into what promises to be an interesting offseason for free agents thanks to the massive loss of money for a sport that played in vacant houses during a 60-game season in a pandemic.
While it’s likely that free agent Masahiro Tanaka will return, a deal isn’t done until it is done. Jordan Montgomery isn’t going anywhere.
James Paxton will be a free agent following the World Series. J.A. Happ insinuated the Yankees manipulated his workload to avoid a $17 million vesting option, which would have kicked in if he made 10 starts or threw 61 ¹/₃ innings. He started nine games and worked 49 ¹/₃ innings. So he is likely to join Paxton on the market.
At some point in the 2021 season, the Yankees expect to get Luis Severino back from the Tommy John surgery he underwent in late February. When isn’t exactly known.
Beyond Cole, Tanaka and Severino, there are Domingo German, Jonathan Loaisiga and neophytes Clarke Schmidt and Deivi Garcia. All four have question marks next to their applications to be major league starters for an annual World Series competitor.
“I think Garcia could be a fourth or fifth starter, but they have to go out and find somebody else,’’ an NL talent evaluator said Sunday. “Maybe a free agent with hope the pitcher has a bounce-back year or trade [Luke] Voit and get something for him. I would keep Loaisiga in the bullpen.’’
Trevor Bauer, who turns 30 in January, is the class of the free-agent starters. That the right-hander prefers working on one-year deals might be appealing to the Yankees, but after he made $17.5 million this past season, when he went 5-4 with an NL-leading 1.73 ERA, a sizeable raise might be too much for the Yankees’ budget.
Kevin Gausman, who also turns 30 in January, had that type of bounce-back season this year with the Giants. The right-hander went 3-3 with a 3.62 ERA in 12 games (10 starts) after signing a one-year deal for $9 million.
Trading Voit is an interesting thought. He led the majors with 22 homers this season even though he was hobbled by a foot issue in the latter part of the schedule and was scheduled for an MRI exam on Sunday. If DJ LeMahieu returns as a free agent, he could slide from second base to first. Such a move could possibly result in the Yankees shifting Gleyber Torres back to second base and looking for a shortstop. And don’t ignore Aaron Boone’s belief that the left-handed hitting Mike Ford can be a productive middle-of-the-order hitter.
Closer Aroldis Chapman has two years and $32 million left on his contract and Chad Green is arbitration-eligible. But Zack Britton’s contract has a clause in it that could trigger him becoming a free agent.
The Yankees have to exercise Britton’s $14 million option for 2022 following the upcoming World Series. If they don’t, Britton can opt out of the contract after the World Series and be a free agent. He will make $13 million in 2021.
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