The New York Yankees announced on Tuesday that they had signed manager Aaron Boone to a three-year extension with a club option. The most notable Yankees development of the day, however, may have entailed general manager Brian Cashman acknowledging that he intends to improve the shortstop position this winter.
"Shortstop is an area of need. We have to address it," Cashman said during the press conference to officially announce Boone's extension, per MLB.com's Mark Feinsand.
The Yankees' primary shortstop this season was Gleyber Torres, whose defensive shortcomings make him a better fit at second base. Once the Yankees accepted that reality, moving Torres to the keystone late in the year, they turned to third baseman Gio Urshela at the six. (DJ LeMahieu and Rougned Odor took over at the hot corner.) The Yankees' infield situation was considered to be one of the biggest unanswered questions entering this offseason.
Clearly the Yankees don't consider that arrangement to be a tenable one heading forward, and that's perfectly fine. The free-agent market is teeming with high-grade shortstops, including the likes of Carlos Correa and Corey Seager. Presuming the Yankees do show interest in either or both, they're likely to face steep competition from the likes of the Philadelphia Phillies and the Chicago Cubs, among others.
One consideration that should not be taken for granted is the luxury tax. The Yankees stayed under the line in 2021, but a pursuit of a top-end free-agent like Correa or Seager would threaten their ability to do so moving forward. Saving a trifling amount of dollars shouldn't be a priority for one of the richest and most prestigious franchises in American professional sports, yet the Yankees have made it one in recent times.
As such, it's theoretically possible the Yankees may end up turning to a (relatively) downmarket option. Javier Báez would represent a defensive upgrade, while Marcus Semien would give them another big bat. Trevor Story would also make some sense, though his declining arm strength could make him a better fit at second base. Should the Yankees somehow whiff on all of those players, they could settle for Andrelton Simmons. That outcome seems unlikely given the sheer quantity of superior options.
Unfortunately for the Yankees, there aren't as many compelling candidates available at the catching position, a spot that Cashman said he would be "evaluating" following the struggles of the incumbent, Gary Sánchez. The best the Yankees could hope for is landing Willson Contreras or Jacob Stallings through trade, or perhaps hoping the Cleveland Guardians find Roberto Pérez's $7 million club option too rich.
The winter is sure to reveal a surprise or two along the way. But if Cashman's word can be trusted, then it's clear the Yankees don't intend to settle for the status quo with their lineup the way they did with their manager.