Brian Cashman spoke to reporters, including The Athletic’s Chris Kirschner, for the first time after the Yankees’ ALCS loss to the Houston Astros. Cashman’s future was among the topics discussed, but the GM also took the time to provide insight into various areas of the roster.
Judge AaronHis future with the organization will be the biggest question heading into the offseason, and Cashman says the team should ideally strike a deal soon if they were to re-sign him. Judge is a heavy favorite for AL MVP after hitting 62 home runs and posting a .311/.425/.686 slash line. The worst-case scenario for the Yankees would be that they miss Judge after his free agency dragged long into the offseason and likely replacements have since signed elsewhere, so it makes sense that Cashman would prefer business completely fast.
“He’s going to dictate the dance moves to his free agency because he’s earned the right to make it happen,” Cashman said. “We will see how it goes. He is the most important. If he came here today and said, ‘I’m signing up. Come on, there’s still work to do.
Cashman wouldn’t offer much insight into the process, offering a “no comment” when asked if the Yankees and the judge had engaged in discussions since the end of the season. He also noted that it was more of a decision for Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner. Cashman has made it clear he wants Judge back, but the final decision will rest at Steinbrenner’s feet as to the size of the contract he’s willing to hand out.
DJ LeMahieu struggled with a foot injury late in the regular season and missed the entire postseason. The Yankees haven’t found a way forward to deal with the offseason injury, but surgery remains on the table. LeMahieu has posted a .261./.357/.377 line with 12 home runs this season, well below the MVP-level offensive output he produced for the Yankees in 2019-20. The Yankees are hoping a full recovery from injury will allow LeMahieu to post better offensive numbers, but he’ll also be 35 in 2023 and it may be unreasonable to expect a lot of rebound for the veteran. With four years and $60 million remaining on his contract, he will certainly be back in the stripes, but his place is up in the air and may depend on how the offseason plays out.
LeMahieu played a lot of first base with the Yankees, but it’s become less necessary since Anthony Rizo joined the team last season. It was previously reported that Rizzo is set to decline his $16 million player option for 2023. That’s not much of a surprise considering Rizzo has had a good season and is set to have shift restrictions in the year. next. Cashman said the Yankees will look to re-sign Rizzo if he opts out. That could come in the form of a qualifying offer, but it seems likely that Rizzo would turn that down in favor of a multi-year deal.
The left side of the infield has drawn a lot of criticism throughout the season, and especially during the playoffs, but Josh Donaldson and Isiah Kiner-Falefa are both vetted for 2023. Donaldson owes $21.75 million while Kiner-Falefa is in his final year of arbitration and is expected to earn $6.5 million per MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz. Donaldson ranked eighth among qualified third basemen in the Outs Above Average, but struggled with the bat, hitting just .222/.308/.374 with 15 homers. Kiner-Falefa was never expected to be a major offensive contributor, but defensive metrics were mixed on his glove work at shortstop, going 28th in Outs Above Average to seventh in Defensive Runs Saved. While a change to No. 3 might be tricky given Donaldson’s sizable salary, Cashman has left the door open for change at shortstop, especially given the impressive rookies. Oswaldo Cabrera and Oswald Peraza done on the stretch. The Yankees also have the best hope Antoine Volpe get closer to the majors.
“I think Kiner was what we expected,” Cashman said. “It gave us the opportunity to close the gap while the kids continued to develop because everyone in the industry, fans and teams, recognizes that we have some pretty impactful prospects that we’re developing and that we had. need more time.”
In further information from Cashman’s press conference, he said he would not discuss the player trade, but noted that the outfielder Aaron Hicks would be back and the team felt he still had something to offer. Hicks hit .216 / .330 / .313 during his campaign at age 32 and has $30.4 million and at least three years remaining on his contract. It is worth adding here that the manager Aaron Boon said today that he wanted to use Giancarlo Stanton in the outfield a few times a week next season. Stanton has played extensively as a designated hitter lately, but factoring him into the outfield depth chart more regularly would affect Hicks’ playing time.
The Yankees are also hoping to bring back pitching coach Matt Blake. Hired in Cleveland after the Yankees parted ways with Larry Rothschild in 2019, Blake is out of contract. The Yankees ranked third in ERA team majors with a 3.30 rating this year, behind only the Dodgers and Astros.