The New York Yankees were unceremoniously dumped in the American League Wild Card round by the Boston Red Sox. It was an ignominious end to a disappointing 2021 season that began with World Series aspirations. Now the Yankees face an incredibly important offseason for the franchise.
The Yankees need to add several pieces this offseason to turn things around. Their top three needs are well-defined. They need to find a shortstop, a No. 2 starter and a long-term solution at first base.
What follows is a step-by-step blueprint for a perfect trip through free agency for The Bombers.
Step 1: Sign Corey Seager
New York needs a solution at shortstop and has money to burn this winter. Seager is one of the top two free agents available along with Carlos Correa. But Seager is the better bet here given his lefty bat at Yankee Stadium's short porch in right. Seager has played on the big stage in LA, has a World Series ring, is still only 27 and is coming off the best two seasons of his career.
Seager has dealt with injuries over the past few seasons but nothing that seems like it will reoccur. He may eventually have to move off shortstop as he ages, but his bat would make him a hell of a third baseman. He's a perfect fit for the Yankees and they should go all-out to sign him.
Step 2: Sign Carlos Rodon
Gerrit Cole is as pure a true ace as there is in baseball. But things in Gotham won't be right until Batman has his Robin. That guy could be Chicago White Sox castoff Carlos Rodon. A former first-round pick, Rodon has dealt with shoulder and elbow injuries during his career, but he put it all together in 2021 and looked phenomenal.
In 24 starts, the 28-year-old lefty went 13-5 with a 2.37 ERA, a 0.96 WHIP and 185 strikeouts in 132.2 innings. There might be bigger fish available (Scherzer, Gausman, Verlander, Stroman) but Rodon will come cheaper, due to his injury history, and has tremendous upside.
This is the right long-term play that will pay huge dividends if his medicals come back clean.
Step 3: Trade for Matt Olson
The Yankees have options at first base. They have been connected to Freddie Freeman and Anthony Rizzo would like to return. But both guys are 32 years-old and could hit the wall shortly. The best option on the market is Oakland A's lefty slugger Matt Olson. The Yankees will have to put together an attractive trade package, but the 27-year-old first baseman will be worth it. The A's look like they're ready for a teardown, so they'll definitely listen to offers.
Olson is a two-time Gold Glover who is coming off a season in which he slashed .271/.371/.540 while hitting 39 home runs and driving in 111 runs. He posted a career-best fWAR of 5.0 and a wRC+ of 146. Perhaps even more appealing, Olson is in his second year of arbitration, meaning he'll be under team control through 2023 even without a contract extension.
Adding Seager and Olson to a lineup that already features Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton would be downright unfair. The Yankees would immediately have the most potent offense in the American League.
Pairing Rodon with Cole atop the rotation would create a formidable one-two punch that would also take pressure off guys like Luis Severino and Jameson Taillon.
This is the script the Yankees should follow this winter. Adding these three pieces would likely make them the favorites to win the American League.