I’m gonna lead with a rumor season truism that isn’t SUPER helpful, but is maybe better than nothing. Whenever you see the same report suddenly coming from multiple sources all at the same time, you know one of two things for sure. Either (A) the reports are simply true, and everyone is suddenly talking about it behind the scenes because sources are content to make that truth known, or (B) someone is out there working overtime to plant a misdirection.
Like I said, it’s not SUPER helpful because those two poles amount to it’s totally true unless it’s completely not, but the middle ground third option is a vast sea of blurry “kind of”s and “maybe”s and partial truths. At least the two extremes offer a framework through which we can try to evaluate the reporting.
Here’s the gist of the reporting that has exploded over the past few days: the New York Yankees are totally not going after the top of the shortstop free agent market, and prefer instead to get some kind of short-term, stop-gap in place for 2022. There have now been reports roughly saying the same thing from the New York Post and the New York Daily News (as well as writers from the Post and SNY suggesting that the Yankees are at least out on Carlos Correa).
Quickly and widely, word was: the Yankees aren’t going to be aggressive, top-of-the-market, $300 million bidders on a free agent shortstop. The fact that all these reports dropped in such a short span definitely means something. The question is what exactly.
So let’s run that through the framework discussed above.
Option A: It’s just true.
As Joel Sherman lays out, even though the Yankees clearly have a need at shortstop, they do have some reasons not to be the top bidder in November. For one thing, it remains possible that the market doesn’t develop as hoped for the non-Correa/Seager options, and the Yankees could swoop in late. For another thing, the Yankees may want to lock up Aaron Judge to a monster deal. For still another thing, the Yankees do have a couple very legit shortstop prospects that are nearer-term, and do at least factor modestly into the conversation.
Option B: Someone wants this out there.
It’s not too hard to come up with a couple suspects on this front. Perhaps the Yankees are SUPER high on one of the top shortstops, and they simply want to make sure their presence in the market isn’t used against them. Or maybe they are SUPER high on one of the top shortstops but simply don’t want to lock anything down before the new CBA is in place, just in case it fundamentally changes the luxury tax calculation.
The other suspect? A club that’s big on Correa or Seager that doesn’t want their target waiting around for the Yankees to get involved. So you plant the seed that, hey, the Yankees are never getting involved so there’s no use waiting until February, and then maybe you can steer the negotiations a little more successfully.
Either way, I tend to think it’s a little more likely this is coming directly from a source (or sources) with the Yankees, given the reporting out of New York. And of the options, I kinda feel like this is the Yankees doing a little bit of soft shoe. Sure, having top shortstop prospects on the way gives you some coverage, but come on. It’s the Yankees. If they really wanted a particular 27-year-old(!) free agent, they aren’t going to let the presence of a prospect change the course. My guess is the Yankees want to get involved, but also want to do early-offseason work chipping away at the high end of the price tags. So although it is perhaps “true” that the Yankees aren’t going to start dropping $300 million offers immediately, I think they are the Option B source that wants this information out there right now because they know, eventually, they will in fact get involved in the bidding.
We’ll see. But for me, despite these reports indicating the Yankees aren’t going to be in on the top shortstops … I’m not really buying it. I think they just want that information out there for now, and by the end of the offseason, we’ll look back and realize it was mostly a lotta subterfuge.