At 12:01 on Wednesday morning the clock started ticking on several key issues facing the Yankees.
Free agency begins the day after the World Series ends. Players can’t sign with a new team until Monday when trades can start to be made. Contract options can be exercised or not within five days of the World Series’ Tuesday ending.
Here are five of the most important issues facing the Yankees.
1. DJ LeMahieu
Retain free agent DJ LeMahieu, their most complete player, who will command a significant raise of the two-year, $24 million contract that ended with him leading the majors in hitting with a .364 average. Like all teams, the Yankees’ finances took a hit in 2020 but unless the competition blows the Yankees out of the water, keeping LeMahieu, who will almost surely will get the $18.9 million qualifying offer, in The Bronx should be priority No. 1.
2. Masahiro Tanaka
Bring free agent Masahiro Tanaka back to slot in behind staff ace Gerrit Cole as either the No. 2 or No. 3 starter and then explore ways to add another experienced starter to the rotation. Tanaka doesn’t know anything but The Bronx and there is a need, so there should be a marriage.
3. Gleyber Torres
Decide if Gleyber Torres is the starting shortstop or should he be moved back to second base. If that move is made then securing a shortstop via free agency or a trade is a must.
4. Zack Britton
The Yankees have three days following the World Series to pick up Zack Britton’s $14 million option for 2022. If they don’t, Britton can opt out of the $13 million he is due for 2021 and become a free agent. Considering Britton’s strong 2020 season this seems to be a slam dunk.
5. Gary Sanchez
Decide on what Gary Sanchez’s future is. Had a full season been played he would have made $5 million. Via arbitration he would likely get a small bump. Is that too much money for a player who performed as poorly as Sanchez did this year? The Yankees can non-tender Sanchez and make him a free agent or agree to a pre-tender deal. A trade isn’t likely because the Yankees would be selling very low.
5a. Brett Gardner
Figure out how much Brett Gardner is worth to the Yankees. Clint Frazier has progressed to having a chance to be the regular left fielder but Gardner provides an alternative if that isn’t the case. He would also be an option in center field with Mike Tauchman in case Aaron Hicks is injured.
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