Two superstar shortstops signed this weekend. Neither with the Yankees.
It would appear the New York Yankees made their big move for the offseason already, and they’re going to ride with the guys on the roster.
The Yankees acquired shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa with Josh Donaldson in a four-player trade with the Minnesota Twins last week.
They could have been players in the Carlos Correa sweepstakes.
They could have been players in the Trevor Story sweepstakes.
Those two players have now agreed to contracts with other American League teams. Correa took a three-year deal with the Twins and Story reportedly signed with the Red Sox on Sunday morning.
What do these two moves mean to the playoff landscape in the American League? And did the Yankees screw up with the limited moves they have made this offseason?
The answer is complicated, but it isn’t great for the Yankees.
Correa to Minnesota
Can someone please explain the last 18 months from the Minnesota Twins to us?
Last season, which was a debacle from the jump, they decided at the deadline that it wasn’t happening. They traded their ace, Jose Berrios, to Toronto for prospects. And they sent Nelson Cruz, their senior leader, to Tampa.
Now, this offseason, they’ve appeared to reverse course. They traded their top pick in the 2021 draft to Cincinnati to Sonny Gray, swapped Mitch Garver (their starting catcher) and Donaldson out of the lineup for Gary Sanchez and Gio Urshela. And now they gave Correa a massive AAV on a shorter-term deal.
The fact is, the Yankees still own the Twins. Nothing about their moves this offseason — including Correa — changes that. Nothing about the additions of Gray and Dylan Bundy to their rotation changes that.
Their offseason has been fascinating, but it feels like they’ve simply moved laterally with all of their activity.
In fact, based on the moves made and likely promotions of top prospects in Detroit and Kansas City, the Twins now have more competition than just the Cleveland Guardians for second place behind the White Sox in the division.
Story’s Boston blockbuster
Trevor Story is in agreement with the Red Sox: 6 years, $140M. There is a player opt out after year 4. Boston can negate by picking up a 7th-yr option. If so the deal is 7-$160M
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) March 20, 2022
The news on Sunday morning that Story was leaving Colorado — officially — for Boston is an interesting move with lots of implications on the American League East.
Story’s arrival means the Red Sox will make one of two infield changes: either Xander Bogaerts moves to second to make room for Story, or he moves to third and Rafael Devers moves across the diamond to first.
Story’s a terrific shortstop. There’s no question the defense at that position is better now. But he doesn’t immediately make the infield defense in Boston good overall.
Story will hit, but he’s effectively replacing Kyle Schwarber’s bat in the lineup. Boston has enough balance from the right and left sides of the plate that this isn’t a significant loss, but we’ll see how well Story takes advantage of the Green Monster… and how the lack of altitude impacts his overall numbers.
What does it mean to the AL?
Based on everything the teams have done since last year’s trade deadline, it certainly feels like the top two teams in the American League are the White Sox and Blue Jays.
Toronto lost Marcus Semien to the Rangers and Robbie Ray to the Mariners via free agency, but their targeted spending this winter has been impressive. The trade for Matt Chapman should improve their defense; the addition of Kevin Gausman to their rotation keeps their pitching staff strong.
The White Sox haven’t done much; they lost Carlos Rodon via free agency but have added Vince Velasquez as a potential starter and both Joe Kelly and Kendall Graveman to an already-impressive, hard-throwing bullpen. They are also expected to move flame-throwing Michael Kopech to the rotation.
After those two teams, the Yankees are in a mix of teams with the likes of Seattle, Boston, Tampa, Minnesota, Cleveland, Detroit and Houston for the playoffs. You should have three or four teams fighting for a postseason berth in the Yankees’ division again this year, but the improvements made in Seattle and Detroit make their division races more interesting starting April 7.
Did the Yankees lose?
Yes, the Yankees offseason is a loss.
The division around the Yankees has had its share of movement. Tampa will be without Tyler Glasnow (injury) and Cruz left as a free agent. But they’ll also have a full season of Wander Franco in the lineup, which is a game-changer. He’s special.
The Yankees, meanwhile, traded a guy who was loved in the clubhouse — Urshela — for a guy who almost literally fought Gerrit Cole last year.
Kiner-Falefa is a really nice player and Yankees fans will likely come to love his game. And bringing back Anthony Rizzo is a solid move that keeps his leadership and left-handed bat (and excellent defense) at first base.
But the Yankees banking on Luis Severino to bolster their rotation as he comes back from injury isn’t enough.
Obviously there’s plenty of baseball to be played between now and the end of September. And, like last year, this likely isn’t a finished product. But right now, the Yankees’ offseason leaves a lot to be desired.