After a nightmarish 2023 season, the New York Yankees remain in the rebuilding phase. They have a ridiculous number of holes to address in the current roster. The off-season is just weeks away, and it’s time for the front office to start making a list of the players to target and pounce on them before it’s too late. Meanwhile, here are five such free agents who could fit in well to bolster the Yankee roster.
1. Catcher Austin Hedges
With Austin Wells’ inclusion, Kyle Higashioka’s time in the Bronx seems up, given Jose Trevino’s return healthy in time for the 2024 season. Still, the team needs one backup catcher, and Austin Hedges remains the best candidate for the available free-agent lot. While his batting average has only touched .200 twice in his nine-year-long big-league career, his work behind the plate is worth a shot. He had a fielding percentage of .989 this year across 60 games. Not only that, Hedges is 31 and can mentor Wells if the need arises. Thus, in the catching department, Austin Hedges is the man for the New York Yankees.
2. DH/OF Michael Brantley
While better left-handed-hitting options are available in the market, Michael Brantley is a cost-efficient option for the New York Yankees. He has a troubling injury history and is yet to play a full season since 2021. Thus, the Bombers could expect him to come cheap. Also, at the end of the day, a left-handed hitting option is all the Yanks need right now. Brantley, 36, has a career average of .298. He could DH, to say the least, which will allow the team to move Giancarlo Stanton to his comfortable position, which is the outfield.
3. OF/1B Cody Bellinger
Cody Bellinger will likely remain the Yankee’s most sought-after free agent this coming off-season. They tried to poach him during the trade deadline, but the Chicago Cubs played spoiled sport at the last hour. Nonetheless, the outfielder will enter free agency in 2024, and the Yanks are expected to go all in. Bellinger, a former MVP, recently had a breakout season with the Cubs, wherein he finished with .307, 26 homers, and 97 RBIs across 130 games. He has a strong left arm, which will bring him assured success at Yankee Stadium. Not only that, Cody can field in the left, which kills two targets with one bullet.
4. SP Alex Cobb
Along with the outfield, the starting pitching rotation is also a concern for the New York Yankees. They need strong anchors for Gerrit Cole and Carlos Rodon. Alex Cobb of Giant will hit free agency in 2024, and the Bombers should consider acquiring him. Despite being in his late 30’s, Cobb has recorded an ERA below 4.00 for the past three seasons. He earned his first All-Star honor in 2023 at 36 years of age. While the Yanks don’t necessarily have to commit long term, a short 2-3 years deal should do the job. Cobb can use his rediscovered form to play second fiddle to the Cole-Rodon duo.
5. RP Josh Hader
Since Wandy Peralta is likely to get an exit, the Yankees need a like-for-like replacement in the bullpen. Josh Hader of the Padres is coming off a strong season. In 61 games, he recorded a 1.28 ERA with 85 strikeouts across 56.1 innings pitched. The flamethrower is young and has the potential to succeed in the long run. Thus, Josh Hader is a perfect low-budget bullpen piece for the Bombers to consider targeting this off-season.