It’s been a long two offseasons for Yankee fans watching marquee free agent fantasies come and go. After skipping out on the elite position player markets of 2021 and 2022, Yankee fans will have to find some new players to photoshop into pinstripes.
The Bombers repeatedly passed on Carlos Correa like a subway car with no AC, and didn’t pursue the likes of Trea Turner, Corey Seager and many others, opting to wait on prospects Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza to fill their shortstop vacancy.
It wouldn’t be fair to label the Yanks as “cheap,” as Hal Steinbrenner dished out $562 million this offseason to retain Aaron Judge and bring in All-Star starter Carlos Rodon. But the lot of a Yankee fan is to cast eyes toward the next big fish in a small market.
Luckily there are always other players to dream on and there will be plenty of blockbuster names available in the near future. Here are the next few superstars set to hit free agency.
Angels SP/DH Shohei Ohtani, 2024 Free Agent
Shohei Ohtani is in line to command the biggest contract in MLB after the 2023 season. The two-way megastar was likely licking his chops seeing the type of money being thrown around this offseason.
The 2021 AL MVP slashed .273/.356/.519 with 34 homers and 95 RBI in 157 games last season hoisting the silver slugger award. The 28-year-old also pitched to a 2.33 ERA in 28 starts finishing fourth in the AL CY Young voting and second in the MVP race to a historic season by Aaron Judge.
The question that everyone will be asking is what will a player who pitches like a top-five arm and hits at an elite-level command on the open market? Something that will likely be out of the Yankees’ price range.
With Steve Cohen seemingly stopping at nothing to make a splash and the Dodgers resetting the luxury tax threshold there will be other suitors that make more sense for Ohtani. Giancarlo Stanton will also occupy the DH spot until 2028 at minimum making it harder to see the Bombers making a real push in the Ohtani sweepstakes.
Padres 3B Manny Machado, Player Option for 2024
Now here’s something that may make sense for the Yanks. Manny Machado has openly admitted his desire to be in pinstripes as recently as the 2019 offseason when he signed his deal with the San Diego Padres.
Machado can opt-out of the five years and $150 million remaining on his contract after the 2023 season. After seeing what the likes of his new teammate, Xander Bogaerts, commanded this offseason, opting out may be in the 30-year-old’s best interest.
The All-Star slashed .298/.366/.531 with 32 homers and 101 RBI while finishing second in the NL MVP voting last season.
The Yanks are free from their self-inflicted Josh Donaldson contract situation after 2023 as his $22 million will come off the books leaving a hole — and one could argue there already is a hole — at third base. So dust off those 2019 photoshops because Machado could again make sense for the Bombers.
Padres OF Juan Soto, Free Agent 2025
Whatever Ohtani gets, Juan Soto could top it. After requiring a king’s ransom to pry him from the Washington Nationals at last season’s trade deadline, Soto is set to hit free agency in 2024.
The Padres’ star had a bit of a down season last year slashing .242/.401/.452 with 27 homers and 62 RBI. The 24-year-old — yes, 24 — led the MLB in walks with 135 and finished ninth in WRC+.
It’s too early to tell how involved the Yanks would be in this particular free agency. However, the on-field fit is undeniable. A superstar left-handed hitting outfielder who doesn’t strike out and can slot right behind Judge in the lineup.
The Bombers do have a few outfield prospects who figure to be nearing the big leagues around 2024 such as Jasson Dominguez, Spencer Jones and Everson Pereira. The Yanks could sell these players as they did with Volpe and Peraza keeping them out of two historically good shortstop free agency classes.
Soto will be 27 at the time of his free agency, and the years — his current team just gave 11 years to a 30-year-old — and dollars he will command figures to be unprecedented. The Yanks have shied away from those types of contracts in recent years. The potential payday for Soto leaves a contract extension somewhat unlikely.
Astros 3B Alex Bregman, Free Agent 2025
If you can’t beat them…get them? Alex Bregman is a free agent after 2024. After years of torturing the Bombers in the postseason, the third baseman may be available for the taking after his age-30 season.
Bregman’s career slash line is .277/.375/.497 averaging 28 homers and 99 RBI per 162 games. The 28-year-old inked a six-year, $100 million extension with the Astros before the 2019 season — and not ruling out another extension as Houston did with Yordan Alvarez last season.
If the Yanks don’t address third base after next upcoming offseason, Bregman could be firmly on Cashman’s radar as his next target to pry from the Astros — just as he did with Gerrit Cole.