The New York Yankees reportedly have no plans to pursue the top free agent bat this winter, outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, despite rumors they will make a big splash.
According to Christian Red of The New York Daily News, signing free agent outfielder Yoenis Cespedes “is not part of the Yankees’ winter spending plans despite speculation that the Bombers could make a run at the 31-year-old outfielder.”
New York already had roughly $50 million come off the books this season even before cutting an additional $23 million in payroll by dealing Brian McCann to the Houston Astros for two minor league arms. Even with the Yankees standing firm in their desire to get under the luxury tax in the next two years, they have plenty of cash to go after one or two of the big names this winter if they are so inclined.
Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio was one of several prominent analysts to predict the Yankees as a potential suitor for Cespedes after they traded McCann, although I have to say, the fit seems like a weird one unless the front office also moved Brett Gardner this winter. Cespedes is still a very good defensive corner outfielder, so making him the full-time DH would be wasting half of his value.
Even if New York does trade Gardner, Clint Frazier and Aaron Judge are both expected to take over an outfield corner at some point in 2017, and the team has a ton of other viable OF options to consider, including Jacoby Ellsbury, Aaron Hicks, Mason Williams, and Dustin Fowler.
I’m not saying signing Cespedes wouldn’t help the offense. It clearly would. But why should the team use their limited resources on a position that is already an area of depth for the organization. Clearly, the pitching staff is where they should be spending big. The Yankees already have a promising nucleus to build their offense around. The future is much more uncertain in the rotation and the pen.
The sources of the Daily News reveal that the team’s three “main areas of import” this offseason are signing top-flight closer Aroldis Chapman, acquiring a starting pitcher, and filling their vacated DH role. With a number of veteran DH-types competing for limited openings this winter, it shouldn’t be difficult for the Yankees to effectively fill their DH vacancy without shelling out the nine figures Cespedes is expected to command.