Manny Machado landed in San Diego, Nolan Arenado is staying in Colorado, and the Yankees are running out of backup plans if Miguel Andujar doesn't live up to the club's expectations in 2019.
The Yankees have remained confident that Andujar can show the necessary improvement defensively at third base to go along with the exceptional offensive production he's already displayed. Andujar worked diligently this offseason to hone his defensive skills, even leaning on the tutelage of potential Hall of Fame third baseman Adrian Beltre. As such, the Yankees current plan to see how the soon-to-be 24-year-old Andujar advances this season makes absolute sense.
Despite Andujar's best efforts, there are some who believe that any improvement will be negligible and push the Yankees to look elsewhere for the answer at the hot corner in 2020 and beyond.
Here are some options for the Yankees should they decide to eventually move on from Andujar...
The former AL MVP signed a pillow contract with the Braves this offseason, hoping to reset his value, which took a hit due in part to questionable health.
Donaldson played in 52 games in 2018, hitting .246 with a .352 on-base percentage and a .449 slugging percentage in 219 combined plate appearances with Toronto and Cleveland. He stroked 14 doubles, eight home runs, and drove in 23 for the 2018 season, which demonstrates the pop is still there.
If Donaldson stays healthy and rebounds, he could be sought after in the next free agent period by several clubs. At 34 next season, Donaldson is clearly in the age range in which total contract values have declined, though he is getting paid a handsome $23 million salary this season.
The changing market dynamic benefits the Yankees, who do not seem intent on signing players in their 30's for more than a couple of seasons at a time.
The Yankees might have the answer in-house in LeMahieu, who is signed with New York through the 2020 season.
LeMahieu is being viewed as the jack-of-all-trades infielder for the Yankees this season, with third base among the positions he'll cover. He is an elite defensive second baseman that possesses enough athleticism to believe that he can handle moving around the infield.
LeMahieu does not nearly possess the offensive makeup of Andujar, but he could make up for it on the defensive end at third base. It's unlikely that he would be the Yankees' first choice if they abandon Andujar, but he might represent a decent fallback option.
While it's entirely possible the Nationals come to extension terms with Rendon, if he hits the open market, the Yankees would be wise to determine if he fit the club's parameters. Rendon will play in his age-30 season in 2020, so the contract might not be too restrictive for the Yankees, who showed Monday with Aaron Hicks that they will pay for a player through his mid-30s.
Rendon has fully come into his own as a hitter over the last two seasons, reaching OPS+ marks of 139 and 137 in 2017 and 2018, respectively. He had a down defensive season per advanced metrics in 2018, though that followed two strong seasons with the glove.
A player that has the ability to hit and defend his position at an elite level like Rendon would clearly make sense for the Yankees to speak with if his services are not secured by his current club.
There is nothing wrong with the Yankees methodology where it concerns Andujar, and it would be excellent for New York if he can simply become an average defender provided his offensive production doesn't tail off.
That said, the Yankees should not be deemed impatient by moving on if Andujar cannot put it together in 2019, especially if an option they believe can deliver at both ends is available.