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4 New York Yankees offseason moves to make them a 2022 World Series contender

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees haven’t reached the World Series since 2009, the first time in a century the most storied franchise in MLB history hasn’t reached the Fall Classic in a decade. With the offseason underway, the winter will be crucial to snapping that streak in 2022.

New York is always willing to spend, ranking near the top of MLB in payroll, but we haven’t seen the franchise take an all-in approach in some time. At a time when clubs like the Oakland Athletics and Cincinnati Reds are willingly tearing their roster down and trading away All-Star talent, the time is now for the Yankees to get aggressive.

With plenty of needs to address, let’s examine four offseason moves the New York Yankees can make to reach the 2022 World Series.

Related: Top MLB free agents of 2021-2022 – Contract predictions for Carlos Correa, Corey Seager and more

New York Yankees sign Trevor Story

MLB: Washington Nationals at Colorado Rockies
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Money should be no object for the Yankees, which makes Carlos Correa and Corey Seager the Yankees’ top free-agent targets. Either play would provide a monumental upgrade over Gleyber Torres, who has held New York back defensively the past two seasons. But letting those two elite shortstops walk and signing Trevor Story might be a wiser decision.

From 2018-’20, Story boasted the third-highest wOBA (.369), ranked third in hard-hit rate (42.1%) and posted the second-best isolated power (.251). Those numbers put him right in line with Seager, who is an inferior defender at shortstop and will likely cost at least $5-plus million more per season. As for Correa, his outstanding defense at shortstop is better than Story but the differences at the plate aren’t significant, as we explained here. By signing Story, New York can use its savings to address other pressing needs with more premium talent.

Jacob Stallings, Bryan Reynolds join the Pinstripes

MLB: Cincinnati Reds at Pittsburgh Pirates
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Gary Sanchez era needs to come to an end. While he is a two-time All-Star selection, New York’s 28-year-old catcher ranks 18th in FanGraphs’ WAR (3.7) over the last three seasons, posting an abysmal .206/.302/.457 slash line with a 29.1% strikeout rate. Behind the plate, Sanchez ranked 55th on Baseball Savant’s catcher framing leaderboard in 2021. Speaking of issues on the Yankees roster, their center fielders ranked 23rd in fWAR (1.5) last season.

  • New York Yankees trade: Jasson Dominguez, Deivi Garcia, Estevan Florial, Miguel Andujar
  • Pittsburgh Pirates trade: Jacob Stallings, Bryan Reynolds

A deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates can solve both problems. Jacob Stallings didn’t get much attention this past season, but he was effective at the plate with an 11.5% walk rate and he ranked 12th in wRC+ (95) in the second half. But acquiring him is about his defense and Stallings posted the fifth-best FRM (8.8) and led catchers in Defensive Runs Saved (21) this past season.

Reynolds is the headliner of the deal. Under team control through 2025, Reynolds slashed .302/./390/.522 this past season despite being surrounded by one of the worst lineups in MLB. Not only does he hit for power (24 home runs, .220 ISO), Reynolds led all center fielders in BB/K rate (0.63).

Brandon Belt becomes underrated free-agent gem

MLB: San Francisco Giants at Colorado Rockies
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Fans would love to acquire Matt Olson, but New York might be better off acquiring a starting pitcher from Oakland and landing a first baseman in free agency. While Brandon Belt isn’t on Olson’s level, either defensively or with the bat, he would be a welcome addition to the Yankees lineup.

Belt enjoyed a career resurgence in San Francisco, thanks to swing changes and adjustments to make his home a more hitter-friendly ballpark. Coming off a season with 29 home runs and a 158 wRC+, all in a more challenging NL West, moving to Yankee Stadium could push Belt into the 30-homer club. A two-year, $36 million contract could work for both sides.

Yankees trade for Frankie Montas

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Seattle Mariners
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Now to address the Yankees rotation, which ranked 10th in ERA (3.91) last year. Oakland’s decision to have a fire sale means three experienced front-line starting pitchers are available. Sean Manaea and Chris Bassitt are appealing, definitive upgrades for New York. But if Brian Cashman is going to make a big move, Frankie Montas is the pitcher to target.

Everything came together for the 28-year-old in 2021, especially in the second half of the season. After July 1, Montas posted the ninth-lowest xFIP (3.32), ranked fifth in HR/9 (0.54), posted the second-lowest ERA (2.17) and struck out 29.1% of batters faced. This is the co-ace this rotation needs and when paired with the other additions, the New York Yankees could become World Series champions in 2022.