Now that we’ve had a few days to let the end of the Yankees’ season simmer, it’s time to look forward. Technically, the offseason doesn’t begin until the World Series ends, but for all intents and purposes, the Yankees are in offseason mode.
The next few months could be incredibly tumultuous. Not just for the Yankees, but for MLB as a whole. The collective bargaining agreement expires at 11:59pm on December 1st. Things between the owners and players don’t seem too peachy, so there’s a chance for tense negotiations upcoming. Those negotiations could create a standstill for all trade and free agent activity.
Aside from the front office working on its roster, the group (and ownership) needs to make a decision on Aaron Boone and his coaching staff before anything else happens. Boone’s contract is up, so the team could simply walk away. I imagine the Yankees will have that settled before the World Series ends. So with that, let’s break down the offseason calendar:
Day after the World Series: Eligible players file for free agency
Game 7 of the World Series is scheduled for November 3rd, so free agency will commence no later than November 4th. Just two Yankees will be major league free agents:
- Anthony Rizzo, 1B
- Corey Kluber, RHP
There are going to be a bunch of minor league free agents, though. I’m going to list these players below, but there’s a chance I am not 100 percent accurate with these names based. I had to make these determinations myself. Now with that caveat aside, these are the guys who have played seven seasons in the minors and aren’t on the 40-man roster:
- Donny Sands, C
- Max McDowell, C
- Jason Lopez, C
- Justin O’Conner, C
- Kyle Holder, IF
- Brandon Wagner, 1B
- Dermis García, 1B
- Wilkerman García, IF
- Kaleb Cowart, IF
- Jonathan Davis, OF
- Trey Amburgey, OF
- Ryan LaMarre, OF
- Thomas Milone, OF
- Socrates Brito, OF
- Michael Beltre, OF
- Isiah Gilliam, OF
- Juan De Leon, OF
- Pablo Olivares, OF
- Frederick Cuevas, OF
- Brody Koerner, RHP
- Adam Warren, RHP
- Nick Goody, RHP
- David Sosebee, RHP
- Kevin Gadea, RHP
- Jio Orozco, RHP
- Nick Green, RHP
- Freicer Perez, RHP
- Jefry Valdez, RHP
- Carlos Espinal, RHP
The main reason I list these guys, even though they aren’t prospects, is because one (Sands) could sign a major league deal immediately. The 25 year-old catcher had a nice season at the plate and reached Triple-A.
Sands, the team’s 8th round pick in 2015, hit .261/.326/.466 (112 wRC+) with 18 home runs and a 15.0 percent K-rate in 380 plate appearances between Double-A and Triple-A. Per MLB Pipeline, he is a “capable receiver” but an “offensive-minded backup”. Seems like prime fodder to be the team’s third catcher in 2022.
5 days after the World Series
Exclusive free agent negotiating window closes.
In other words, free agents can sign negotiate any team they choose at this date. That means Rizzo and Kluber can talk with other teams. It also means the Yankees can start conversations with one of the big shortstops on the market.
Qualifying offers must be made.
Rizzo isn’t eligible to receive the QO because he was acquired midseason, but it’s not like he or Kluber, who is eligible, were likely recipients anyway. There’s nothing to do here for the Yankees.
Contractual option decisions
Three players could stay or go:
- Joely Rodríguez, LHP — $3 million team option, $500k buyout
- Brett Gardner, OF — $2.3 million player option, $1.15 million buyout (or $7.15 million club option)
- Darren O’Day, RHP — $1.4 million player option
60-day Injured List activation
The Yankees will have to return seven players to the 40-man roster:
- Aaron Hicks, CF
- Clint Frazier, OF
- Miguel Andújar, LF/3B
- Darren O’Day, RHP
- Tim Locastro, OF
- Zack Britton, LHP
- Luke Voit, 1B
To do so, the Yankees will need to make a few cuts. There are 47 players on the 40-man right now, but Rizzo and Kluber will reduce that to 45 after the World Series. That’s not a locked in number either, though. Signing Sands to a major league contract and potential option buyouts will make this a moving target.
There are a few players on the 40-man bubble. I’ll rank seven in the order I think most likely to be cut on or before this day:
- Rob Brantly, C
- Tim Locastro, OF
- Greg Allen, OF
- Andrew Velazquez, SS
- Chris Gittens, 1B
- Lucas Luetge, LHP
- Rougned Odor, INF
Chances are the Yankees won’t need to get past five of these guys, and perhaps there could be as few as three or four to start depending on the contract buyouts.
November TBD: Owners’ Meetings
This is usually scheduled for November as part of the 30 owners’ quarterly meetings. I’m sure the main topic will be the CBA.
November TBD: GM Meetings
This also is typically in November. There usually aren’t many transactions to announce during this period, but it’s certainly an opportunity for groundwork on future deals to be made. Any time you have all 30 general managers getting together, trades are going to be discussed. For what it’s worth, the Aaron Hicks deal went down during the GM meetings a few years back.
November 19: Rule 5 Draft Protection
The Yankees will have to add a few players to the 40-man roster in order to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft that occurs at the end of the Winter Meetings. You can see all of the players eligible for the Rule 5 draft on the Yankees’ Roster Resource page (players with “Dec’21” or “R5” are eligible). Rather than list everyone, I’ve whittled it down to notable first-time eligible minor leaguers and notable repeat-eligible players:
- New players: Josh Breaux, Brandon Lockridge, Randy Vasquez, Everson Pereira, Matt Sauer
- Notable Repeats: Oswaldo Cabrera, Ron Marinaccio
We’ll do some more robust coverage on the Rule 5 guys as this deadline approaches.
December 1st: Non-tender deadline
I count 19 (!) players eligible for arbitration this winter. That’s a lot of players getting raises. I’ve listed them below. Those with asterisks are players who were Super Two eligible and thus will go through the process four times (rather than three).
- Aaron Judge (3rd time)
- Gary Sánchez (3rd)
- Joey Gallo (3rd)
- Jameson Taillon (3rd)
- Chad Green (3rd)
- Gio Urshela (3rd*)
- Jordan Montgomery (3rd*)
- Wandy Peralta (3rd)
- Luke Voit (2nd*)
- Gleyber Torres (2nd*)
- Clint Frazier (2nd*)
- Clay Holmes (1st)
- Miguel Andújar (1st)
- Domingo Germán (1st)
- Tyler Wade (1st)
- Jonathan Loáisiga (1st)
- Kyle Higashioka (1st)
- Tim Locastro (1st)
- Lucacs Luetge (1st)
Voit is going to get talked about as a non-tender candidate, but I really just can’t see it. I really don’t think the Yankees will non-tender anyone here, in fact (assuming Locastro is cut earlier, as I mentioned). They may trade a few of these guys before this deadline, but a straight non-tender? I doubt it.
December 5th-9th: Winter Meetings
Last year’s Winter Meetings went virtual due to COVID-19, but I expect a more normal event this offseason. Traditionally, this is when a lot of the big transactions go down. Who knows what it will be like this year given the labor situation.
January 14th: Arbitration figure exchanges
Teams and eligible players exchange contract amounts for the upcoming season and a hearing date is scheduled for February. This date doesn’t mean two sides can’t settle, though. The Yankees rarely go to arbitration hearings, and when they do, they tend to be ugly. Look no further than the club’s hearing with Dellin Betances a few years back.
February 2022: Spring Training Begins
Players will officially report to camp mid-month and the first game is on February 26th. The rest of the game schedule is here.