With the MLB season on hold due to the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic, the MLB and MLBPA have come together to agree on how they would deal with players' service time accrued during these unorthodox circumstances. In what is to likely be a shortened season (at best), they agreed that in 2020, players will get credited with playing a full season despite only playing a shortened 2020.
This deal puts the New York Yankees in quite the predicament. DJ LeMahieu, James Paxton, and Masahiro Tanaka are all free agents after the 2020 season, and based on the reported agreement, they'd all be gone, as scheduled, after a shortened campaign.
Paxton, in his one season in pinstripes so far, has proven to be a valuable asset, and his performance in Game 5 of the ALCS is a memorable one. Tanaka, although often average in the regular season, is one of the most incredible postseason performers ever. And in 2019, LeMahieu was one of the best hitters in baseball, and even extended their season by an inning with an extremely clutch, ninth-inning, game-tying home run in Game 6 of the ALCS.
If those three key Yankees only play 80 games in a shortened 2020 season, they'll still hit free agency as though they gave the team a full year of service. The team not only gets less control, but it's harder to evaluate who they'd want to pay once the offseason hits. Are 80 games enough to prove Paxton's trustworthy? What about evaluating Tanaka's aging curve? Everything just got a bit harder.
And then, there's the simpler part of it -- 80 games of DJ LeMahieu before his contract expires doesn't feel fair. We want 162! We want an extension! On a granular level, it's just unfortunate.
The likely shortened season due to the coronavirus brings about more issues to the Yankees than initially thought. If 2020 is shortened and they don't win a World Series by the end of it, free agency is going to be really difficult in the Bronx.