With the Yankees falling short of the World Series, this offseason will be one of the most important in recent memory. In order to avoid having to pay extra money, the Yankees usually try to stay under the Luxury Tax. Last offseason, Brian Cashman signed free agents DJ LeMahieu, Troy Tulowitzki, and Adam Ottavino, who at the time were seen as “lesser” free agents. Obviously, Ottavino and LeMahieu were exceptional signings for the Bombers as they were key contributors to their 103 win squad.
With their need for starting pitching, the Yankees should be looking into Zack Wheeler. Wheeler has been one of the most underappreciated starters in the league over the last couple of seasons. He has been a constant in that spectacular Mets rotation, but wasn’t as known as DeGrom and Syndergaard. Wheeler may not be as sexy of an option as Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg, but he could be an exceptional addition to the Yankees rotation. In 2019, Wheeler posted a 3.96 ERA with nine strikeouts per nine innings. The main issue with Wheeler on the Mets was that he was forced to constantly throw his sinker. Wheeler threw his sinker 396 times last season, and it hurt his production. Mets catcher, Wilson Ramos, is notorious for not calling a game; so much so that Noah Syndergaard refused to pitch with Ramos behind the plate. If the Yankees can bring in Zack Wheeler, he will be a major candidate for a breakout season.
Another undervalued free agent is Jose Iglesias. Iglesias isn’t the most offensive minded player, but he is one of the best fielders in baseball. With Didi Gregorius possibly leaving this offseason, Gleyber Torres will likely move to shortstop full time. With only one defensive run saved, Torres has not been too good defensively at shortstop in the past. Although he hasn’t spent too much time at the position, that is still not good. On the contrary, Iglesias is heralded as one of the best defensive shortstops in baseball. With the roster expansion taking place next year, the Yankees could certainly use Iglesias off the bench as a defensive specialist.
Finally, with the Cleveland Indians looking to trade Corey Kluber, the Yankees could try to strike a deal for the two-time Cy Young Award winner. Since 2012, Kluber has been a top pitcher in the league, participating in three all star games. Considering Kluber can still perform at a high level, the Yankees will need to part with a prospect like Nick Nelson or Albert Abreu. If the Yankees don’t want to spend too much money this offseason, this trade route looks like a very good option for them.
The Yankees face an interesting offseason in deciding who they should re-sign. The two players I believe must come back to the Bronx are Dellin Betances and Brett Gardner. Betances has been a top reliever for many years and is a crucial guy in the bullpen. When healthy, Betances is arguably one of the best in the game at his position and can be a shutdown reliever. Betances will likely sign a short-term deal as there is major risk regarding his injury history. Brett Gardner had a career year last season with 28 home runs. However, Gardner is already 36-years old and with his career winding down, will only be signed to a short-term contract. With an important upcoming season, the Yankees must bring back Dellin Betances and Brett Gardner.
Even though most people don’t believe it, the Yankees have a budget. Yankee fans, including myself, want to see Brian Cashman make a run at Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg. If they don’t, the Yankees can still set themselves up for a quality offseason. When they gave Aroldis Chapman his extension, the Yankees only allowed for a roughly two-million dollar gap before the Luxury Tax. With a history of staying below the Luxury Tax during the Brian Cashman era, it is likely that the Yankees will not go after top-tier free agents. If Cole and Strasburg are off the board, it is a mystery to everyone what the Yankees will do.