Should Yankees pursue Kris Bryant when lockout ends?

Kris Bryant makes throw to first in white Giants jersey

Yankee fans are waiting impatiently for MLB’s lockout to end so they can see what exactly GM Brian Cashman has been cooking up behind the scenes. While other teams have made waves, the Yanks have kept things at low tide.

All eyes will be on the pursuit of a highly-coveted shortstop like Carlos Correa or Trevor Story. That would be a big splash if Cash can land one of them and cement the position for years to come. Other moves would follow.

But is that the Yankees’ only option to improve their roster for 2022? Yes, Cashman did say at the GM Meetings that shortstop would be a priority. But there are still some big name free agents still available that could fit the Yankees.

Freddie Freeman is one, but it’s unlikely he’ll want to choose the Yanks from multiple reports out there. But Kris Bryant is an intriguing option to don the pinstripes for numerous reasons.

No, he’s not a shortstop but he’s a natural third baseman that has spent some time in the outfield, which is a plus.

The main reason to bring someone like him in, though, is his bat which is a powerful, gap-to-gap piece of lumber from the right side of the dish. Like Anthony Rizzo, he was moved by the Chicago Cubs during their fire sale last season to the San Francisco Giants and he produced well before and after that, slashing .265/.353/.481 with 25 dingers, 73 RBI and just 135 strikeouts in this high-whiff rate era. Bryant also collected his fourth All-Star bid, too.

Aug 25, 2021; New York City, New York, USA; San Francisco Giants third baseman Kris Bryant (23) at Citi Field.

Aug 25, 2021; New York City, New York, USA; San Francisco Giants third baseman Kris Bryant (23) at Citi Field.

If the Yanks were to target Bryant, it would probably mean Story and Correa are off the board. But the fit could work fundamentally when you view it this way: Bryant is the mainstay at third base, a stopgap is signed for cheap to play a defense-first shortstop (hello Andrelton Simmons) and Gleyber Torres holds his normal second base post.

What about Gio Urshela? Well it’s always been an offseason storyline for New York after Cashman’s shortstop comments along with looking at first base options. It’s a crowded infield now, which means trades are going to be explored, making Urshela a top target to go somewhere. Even Torres isn’t safe at second with DJ LeMahieu signing his extension last year and needing a place if first is occupied.

Urshela is defensively sound at third and has proven his worth for sure, but Bryant is the clear favorite if he were to come on board. Could Urshela shift to shortstop like he did when the Torres 2021 experiment happened? He posted a minus-one defensive runs saved in 200 innings when he was moved — not terrible but the Yanks are looking for a bit more in that department.

So the fit for Bryant overall can work — it’s just a slightly different flip than what was expected. The Yanks would still get a high impact bat they can control for years to come to go along with their other sluggers, while having a versatile player that can even play first if needed.

We won’t know for sure what the Yankees have on the big board when the league gets underway again, but Bryant can’t be written off as someone that doesn’t make sense for their roster equation.