As pitchers and catchers begin reporting to spring training, there is an underlying suspicion that the New York Yankees might not be done making big moves this offseason.
While one more top-tier starting pitcher could make the Yankees clear favorites in the American League, most of the focus is on the left side of their infield.
Major League Baseball’s lethargic offseason has seen two of the game’s best talents in Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, both free agents, go unsigned well into February, now.
The Yankees have been continuously linked with Machado throughout this offseason despite general manager Brian Cashman accruing plenty of depth in the infield.
The signing of shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and second baseman DJ LeMahieu has provided further options for manager Aaron Boone as the two veterans will be thrown int the mix for playing time alongside Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar. With starting shortstop Didi Gregorius sidelined for a sizable chunk of the 2019 season as he recovers from Tommy John surgery, the Yankees could use a combination of Torres and Tulowitzki at the position.
However, third base could become a serious issue should the Yankees make a huge splash on the market. Here are three candidates who could be playing third base at ANY point during the 2019 season.
Yankees 3B option: Miguel Andujar
Andujar seems safe for now after a stellar rookie season in 2018. At 23 years old and coming off a 27-home-run, 47-double seaon, the ceiling on Andujar is sky high for one of the team’s best bats.
Yet a questionable glove at third base has only hurt his value as the Yankees had no problem floating his name out there this winter. He was most notably included in a potential blockbuster deal that would have sent him, along with Gary Sanchez, to the Miami Marlins in a three-team deal that could have yielded Noah Syndergaard from the Mets. The Marlins would then have sent catcher JT Realmuto to Queens.
Whether he is not in their formula for a “win-now” mentality or he is just a necessary sacrifice to bring in a greater talent, Andujar could quickly become expendable in the coming weeks or at the Jul. 31 trade deadline.
Yankees 3B option: Manny Machado
Machado’s name just won’t go away around the Bronx.
A report from SNY’s Jim Duquette over the weekend suggested that the Yankees offered Machado a $220 million deal around the seven-to-eight-year range. However, he quickly redacted it, saying he was merely speculating on a recently-heard rumor.
That’s the kind of offseason it’s been, so far.
What every MLB insider and analyst refuses to say is that no one but Cashman and Yankees management really knows how serious the Yankees are in bringing on Machado. The All-Star’s stubborn desire to get a $300 million deal will continue to keep the Yankees away from him, but if the offseason continues to drag on and he doesn’t have a new home, then Cashman could swoop in and get him at a discount.
Should all the dominoes fall in the perfect place and Machado winds up going to the Bronx, then Andujar could quickly be on the move.
Yankees 3B option: Nolan Arenado
This is much more of a long shot compared to the previous two on this list, but there are a number of circumstances that could prompt the Yankees into pursuing the Colorado Rockies star man.
Arenado is a free agent following the 2019 season, though he and the Rockies are working on a multi-year extension that will keep him in Colorado for the better part of the next decade.
While both sides have made progress on a deal, Arenado has made it known in the past that he has a desire to win that has not been quenched during his time with the Rockies. That looming factor could play a major role in negotiations. If the 27-year-old doesn’t believe the Rockies can be contenders soon, there might be hesitation to complete such a deal, regardless of how much money is on the table.
Should negotiations break down, and there is no suggestion that they will, Arenado would likely become the biggest player on the trade market when the league’s deadline nears on Jul. 31.
If the Yankees abandon any hope of signing Machado and are in need of a spark this summer, it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibilities seeing Andujar headlining a package offer for Arenado. Suddenly, the Yankees would have another huge bat that has averaged 40 home runs over the last four years to put alongside Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton.