When the MLB  regular season begins in two weeks, the New York Yankees will trot out an almost entirely new infield. They have a new shortstop and a new third baseman, a new starting catcher, and their first baseman played only 49 games with the team last year. The Yankees went into the offseason with a goal to improve their infield defense and they accomplished that.

They did not accomplish it how I think most thought they would, however. Rather than sign a top free agent like Carlos Correa or Freddie Freeman, or swing a blockbuster trade for Matt Olson, the Yankees traded for Isiah Kiner-Falefa (while absorbing Josh Donaldson's contract) and re-signed Anthony Rizzo. They're turning the catching reins over to Kyle Higashioka and (the currently injured) Ben Rortvedt after including Gary Sánchez in the Kiner-Falefa and Donaldson trade.

It sure seems like the Yankees got outmaneuvered. Taking on Donaldson's contract helped the Twins afford Correa (Minnesota saved about $36 million from 2022-23 with the trade based on arbitration projections), who signed a short-term contract that would have fit the Yankees perfectly with shortstop and top prospect Anthony Volpe on the way. Correa's contract almost seems designed specifically to make the Yankees look bad.

On Monday, Yankees GM Brian Cashman defended his team's offseason, noting he stayed in touch with Correa's representatives throughout the offseason. Here's what Cashman said (via's Randy Miller):

"He's got a chance to be a good player," Cashman said of Kiner-Falefa during the late innings of Monday's 5-2 Yankees win over the Phillies. "He's going to get that chance to be the everyday guy and run with it. He brings confidence to our defense.

"We're hopeful that he and everybody else that we have will do what we hope and see where it takes us. And we're going to run out the highest payroll we've ever had in our history."


"We stayed in touch and evaluated all the market availabilities through trade and free agencies, and then placed our bets," Cashman said. "We were able to attack what was available to us once we pulled those down and closed doors on other things. You only have a certain amount of money to spend, and once you fill those needs you keep moving."

Kiner-Falefa does "got a chance to be a good player," but Correa and Corey Seager and Trevor Story are good players, and when you have Aaron Judge for only more guaranteed season and who knows how many remaining peak years of Gerrit Cole and Giancarlo Stanton, you'd think the Yankees would want more than someone who has a chance to be good.

Also, while it's technically true the Yankees will have their highest payroll ever in 2022, their payroll is roughly in line with 2020. The club had a $239.8 million payroll for competitive balance tax purposes prior to proration in 2020. That was their intended payroll before the pandemic changed everything. Cot's Baseball Contracts estimates their current competitive balance tax payroll at $246.6 million.

Furthermore, New York's actual player payroll in 2021 ($197.7 million) was lower than it was in 2005 ($208.3 million). Payroll has stagnated under chairman Hal Steinbrenner despite the Yankees opening a new ballpark in 2009 and MLB's revenues continually climbing (new national television deals, the MLBAM sale, etc.). The Yankees don't deserve a pat on the back for having their highest payroll ever in 2022. They're supposed to do that.

The Yankees had to diversify their lineup (i.e. fewer swing-and-miss righties) and improve their infield defense this offseason, and by all accounts they've done that. Have they done it enough to improve their World Series chances? Have they made the best use of their resources? That will be decided on the field. On paper, the Yankees entered the offseason with a chance to meaningfully improve their roster, and instead passed on Plan A for a bunch of Plan Bs and Cs.