August 15, 2022

TAMPA — The Yankees will report to George M. Steinbrenner Field on Sunday to undergo physicals, followed by the first full-squad workout on Monday.

Barring a late change, their Opening Day shortstop might not be there with them.

The Yankees will enter spring training with a lingering hole at shortstop, a position they did not address before the lockout and still haven’t since it was lifted on Thursday night.

While there were plenty of star shortstops on the free-agent market this offseason, the Yankees have not been included in those sweepstakes — signaling that perhaps they were opting for a stopgap at the position for a season until top prospects Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza will be ready for the big leagues.

But in the days since the lockout ended, three potential short-term options have already come off the board.

On Friday, defensive specialist Andrelton Simmons reportedly agreed to a one-year, $4 million deal with the Cubs. The former Twins, Angels and Braves shortstop doesn’t pack much offense, but would have given the Yankees a sure hand in the field.

Jonathan Villar could be a free-agent shortstop target for the Yankees, if they don’t land Carlos Correa and Trevo Story.
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Then on Saturday, the Rangers — who signed two of the top free-agent shortstops before the lockout in Corey Seager and Marcus Semien — traded shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa to the Twins in exchange for catcher Mitch Garver. Kiner-Falefa, who is entering his second year of arbitration, would have provided some speed on the basepaths in addition to Gold Glove defense had the Yankees landed him in a trade.

Jose Iglesias also reportedly signed a one-year deal with the Rockies later on Saturday, subtracting another veteran option.

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There are still two big fish on the free-agent shortstop market: Carlos Correa and Trevor Story. But a deal for Correa would appear unlikely, given the big money and length of contract he is expected to command. If Story is amenable to a shorter-term pact — allowing him to boost his value and reenter the market next offseason — perhaps the former Rockies shortstop could be the Yankees’ answer.

Otherwise, the external options fall off from there — with shortstops like ex-Met Jonathan Villar and Ehire Adrianza still free agents while the Athletics could be open to moving veteran Elvis Andrus.

The Yankees’ top internal option is Gio Urshela. He started most of the games at shortstop after the Yankees moved Gleyber Torres to second base late last season, and has said he would be willing to play there this season. But the natural third baseman might be best served in a utility role that would allow the Yankees more flexibility with their infield, with DJ LeMahieu also moving around.

The other Yankees to start games at shortstop last season were Tyler Wade and Andrew Velazquez, including the latter in the AL wild-card game. But Wade was designated for assignment and Velazquez was claimed off waivers by the Angels during the offseason 40-man roster crunch, leaving the Yankees’ major league-ready shortstop depth even shallower.