The Yankees will obviously make big plays for Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg this winter, but Brian Cashman will also shop for under the radar players.
When the Yankees signed DJ LeMahieu last winter it was hardly a celebrated move by the team’s passionate fan base. As it turned out, that was Brian Cashman’s best signing of the offseason. Look for New York’s front office to try to follow the same blueprint in the coming months.
That doesn’t mean the Yankees won’t aggressively pursue Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg, it just means that Cashman isn’t going to put all of his free agent eggs in one of those baskets. Instead, look for the organization to target some lesser-known free agents that they believe can make a big impact in 2020. Here are five under-the-radar free agents that could out-perform their profile and turn into highly productive signings for the Yankees.
5. Travis d’Arnaud
Catcher may not be a position of serious need for the Yankees this offseason, but it will become one if Austin Romine elects to leave via free agency. The idea that Kyle Higashioka will ascend to the backup catcher role unchallenged doesn’t feel like a move Cashman will make.
Bringing in d’Arnaud as competition could be a stroke of genius. He is an injury risk but he gave the Rays a solid season of production last year. He could even give the Yankees another power bat as evidenced by the 16 long balls he hit in just 351 at bats last season.
Gary Sanchez is a good bet to miss a stretch of time due to injury which means New York has to make sure they feel comfortable with their backup catcher. Taking d’Arnaud away from the Rays would strengthen the Yankees while weakening another team in the division. Signing him wouldn’t generate a lot of Hot Stove headlines, but it could add several wins to the team’s total in 2020.