Heading back home from the MLB Winter Meetings, Yankees GM Brian Cashman & Co. should feel great about where there 2020 roster is looking at the moment.
Gerrit Cole is the bonafide ace they've been searching for, and he inked a nine-year deal. Also, Brett Gardner has returned for another season in pinstripes, which shores up center field with Aaron Hicks rehabbing his way back from Tommy John surgery.
So there's not much else that Cashman needs to search for in free agency or via trade. The Yankees have the power, depth and now the pitching in both the rotation and bullpen to capture a 2020 World Series title. But that doesn't mean Cashman is done tweaking his 26-man roster.
Analyzing the roster, there's a deficiency in left-handed bats. Didi Gregorius is no longer in the lineup after his one-year deal with the Phillies became official on Monday, and Hicks' switch-hitting bat won't be at the plate for months. That leaves only Gardner, Mike Tauchman, Tyler Wade and potentially Mike Ford on the Yankees' roster hitting from the left side. Gardner is the only one of the group that should be considered a regular starter as well.
There is also somewhat of a hole at first base. Luke Voit is recovering from surgery this offseason that repaired the core muscle that kept him out at the end of the season. And the Yankees parted ways with Greg Bird, as his own injuries just didn't allow him to stay on the field.
Luckily, there are some players out there that fit both of those categories for the Yankees, and some better deals than the others. If Cashman is going to look to add a new first baseman, here's what order he should go with those available:
1) Mitch Moreland
The 34-year-old has played for the Red Sox the past three seasons, and could be on their radar as someone who returns in 2020. However, with Steve Pearce having a breakout season for Boston, Moreland could change allegiances by heading to the Bronx if the Yankees want to make it happen.
Moreland doesn't pop off the stat sheet, but he is very consistent. He slashed .252/.328/.507 with 19 homers and 58 RBI, which coincides with his career numbers. And his glove is consistent at first base as well. Moreland's last full season at first came in 2017, where he was 10 defensive runs saved, according to Fangraphs.
Voit would still enter camp as the Opening Day starter, but Moreland's veteran presence and postseason experience that includes a World Series ring in 2018 would certainly be worth the price for Cashman. It's also a price that shouldn't be too steep, as he signed a two-year, $13 million deal with the Red Sox last time he inked a dotted line.
2) Brandon Belt
Unlike Moreland, Cashman would need to work his magic in a trade with the Giants for Belt. But would it be worth it?
Belt regressed slightly in 2019 compared to his 2018 season that saw a .253/.342/.414 slash line over 112 games. Over 156 last season in San Francisco, he hit .239/.339/.403 with 17 homers and 57 RBI. Those numbers are less productive than Moreland's last season, and Belt would cost more than him most likely.
However, according to The Post's George A. King III, some think that Belt could be hitting more homers if he leaves Oracle Park. Yankee Stadium, then, would be perfect for his lefty swing with the short porch in right field.
The 31-year-old is owed $32 million over the next two seasons, and has a 10-team no-trade clause in his contract. It's unknown if the Yankees are on it, but if he set his teams up so he can choose a contender to go to, New York would likely be considered.
Who would Cashman trade? The Giants could use some outfield help, so Clint Frazier would likely be asked about by San Fran. Miguel Andujar should be another name that comes up, but the Yankees should be hesitant giving away a player like Andujar for Belt.
3) Justin Smoak
If the Yankees want to take a flyer instead of committing to an option like Moreland or Belt, Smoak would be the guy to look at.
The switch hitter was hovering around the Mendoza line last season, with a .208 average to go along with 22 homers and 61 RBI in 121 games with the Blue Jays. That was a pretty steep decline from his .242 average in 2018, but the power was virtually the same with 25 homers that year as well.
The Yankees would take on Smoak hoping he could repeat the 2017 production he put up that saw his first career All-Star nod (.270 average with 38 homers and 90 RBI). Marcus Thames, the Yankees' hitting coach, has found a way to get the most production out of players not known for their bats like Gio Urshela and Cameron Maybin last season. Maybe he can tweak something in Smoak to release a deadly swing from both sides of the plate for the Yanks.
But that's more of a risk, though it could come cheap. He made $8 million last year with the Blue Jays, so another one-year deal could possibly be on the table.