These shortstops could be Yankees long-term solution at position

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NEW YORK — While the stink of stale champagne is still being cleared out of the visiting clubhouse in Houston, baseball quickly turns its attention to the free-agent market. For the Yankees, who’ve had plenty of down time to do their research after being bounced in the American League wild-card game, that means it’s time to fill holes that became very apparent in 2021.

First on their shopping list is a shortstop. Last month, after announcing the extension of manager Aaron Boone, GM Brian Cashman said that was an obvious need. Considering the team gave up on Gleyber Torres at shortstop in mid-September, it is pretty obvious.

The question for the Yankees at this position, however, is if they are looking for a long-term shortstop of the future. That means shopping in the luxury aisle of the free-agent market, which has plenty of interesting offerings this winter. The likes of Carlos Correa, Trevor Story, Corey Seager or Marcus Semien, who vaulted into top-tier status this year, are not only going to cost a lot of money, they are going to require longer-term commitments. Two of the Yankees’ top prospects — Anthony Volpe and Oswaldo Peraza — are shortstops the Yankees would likely have to commit to moving if they bring in a superstar shortstop.

At just 27, Correa is going to be a foundation for an organization for years to come when he signs this winter. He will be a solid building block having slashed .279/.366/.485 with 26 home runs this season. He’s rated as one of the league’s best with the glove for the past few seasons. He finished the 2021 regular season with the top WAR according to Baseball Reference.

But Correa was also the face of the Astros’ 2017-18 cheating scandal, which still burns the Yankees. It’s hard to imagine Correa in a Yankees clubhouse full of players who were very vocal in their belief the Astros cheated them out of a trip to the World Series.

Seager has seemed like the best fit for the Yankees, who are committed to diversifying their lineup with more lefty hitters. Seager, the 2020 World Series MVP, has a power bat, rarely strikes out and draws walks. Seager hit .306/.394/.521 over 407 plate appearances this season, missing time with a fractured right hand. His glove has always been rated average to slightly below average the last few seasons, but his proven offense has been able to overcome that.

Semien moved to second base last year with the Blue Jays, but said he still considers himself a shortstop heading into free agency. Semien led MLB with 724 plate appearances, and he hit a .265/.334/.538 with 45 home runs, the fourth most in the majors, and stole 15 bases.

The Yankees have long been linked to Story in trade rumors, but that interest seemingly has fizzled out. There are plenty of reasons for that in 2021, including some horrible road-home splits that could keep his market down. At Coors Field, Story hit .296/.365/.515 with an .880 OPS. Away from the Mile High city, Story hit .203/.292/.426 with a .717 OPS, which should raise some concerns. His .251/.329/.471 slash line in 2021 was his worst since 2017.

Two other intriguing options, who would cost less in terms of time and money, would be Javier Baez and Chris Taylor.

Baez struggled in 2020 and to start 2021, but finished strong with the Mets. He hits for power, runs the bases well and is an excellent defensive shortstop.

Taylor hasn’t played much shortstop over the last few years, but that was his primary position coming up with the Mariners. He played 23 games there this season for the Dodgers. He’s an above-average hitter and is considered a decent defensive shortstop. He showed his ability to play on the big stage in the postseason. He hit.476/.542/1.048 with three homers in the National League Championship Series.

With the belief that Volpe and Peraza could be on the fast track to the majors, predicted to arrive in 2023, the Yankees could also look to fill the void with a shorter term deal by signing a competent, veteran shortstop. Freddy Galvis and Andrelton Simmons are available.



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