The State of the Yankees

As a Yankees fan (albeit one that has only witnessed their 2009 World Series), I have never been more excited about the team’s present and future. With the MLB roster slowly filling with good, young talent, and with even more stirring circumstances in the minors, the Yankees have the potential to be another powerhouse team.

The Team

Right now, the Yankees are in the midst of a revolution. Out with the old (A-Rod and Teixeira) and in with the new (Sanchez, Judge and Austin). Despite missing out on the playoffs, they will feature a well-rounded lineup at the start of next year.

It’s safe to say that Gary Sanchez won’t enjoy quite the success he did in the last two months of this season. Actually, he won’t come close. This isn’t to say he will play poorly, it’s just that he played so well that he can’t come back to those levels. However, Sanchez will no doubt still be one of the better-hitting catchers in the MLB with average to plus defense behind the dish, so they will already be better in that position in 2017 than they were in 2016.

The Yankees infield is the most likely to change the least with only Greg Bird slotting in at first base. Didi Gregorious, Starlin Castro and Chase Headley are each under team control until at least 2018, and there isn’t anyone challenging them for their spots at the moment. At first base, though, I say it is most likely that Bird gets the spot because it is possible that Tyler Austin beats him out in spring training. Austin is more likely to be used as a quasi-utility player as he can play at first, in right field and DH.

In the outfield everything could remain the same as the end of the season with Hicks or Judge in right, Ellsbury in center and Gardner in left. It could also see some changes. Gardner and Ellsbury both have the potential to be traded over the offseason with Gardner the more likely of the two. There are options to fill those gaps if trades do happen. Mason Williams could fill in until Clint Frazier is (hopefully) ready later in the season. Hicks, Austin and Judge could also fill the holes if needed.

The Yankees pitching is the most worrisome issue. The starting pitching, that is. Masahiro Tanaka performed well in 2016, so there is no reason to think otherwise for the next year. Beyond that, though, are question marks. Nate Eovaldi will probably be a non-tender after his Tommy John surgery. Pineda had his usual ups and downs. Sabathia is still getting older. Then there are numerous options in Luis Severino, Chad Green, Luis Cessa and Bryan Mitchell. Severino will be given the longest look because of his end to the 2015 season, but it’s a toss-up from there.

The bullpen in New York is still a quality one despite trading away Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller. Dellin Betances is one of the best in the game, so that’s a good start. Tyler Clippard, Adam Warren and whoever misses out on the rotation gig will presumably fill in the rest with a lefty thrown in.

The Minors

Now comes the most exciting part of the Yankees. With a system that starts with four top-30 prospects despite Sanchez already graduating, the Bombers are on their way to a good future. Frazier is in AAA and still needs to put up good at-bats before he gets the call to the majors, but that time will come soon enough. Gleyber Torres and Jorge Mateo will likely start the year in AA, so they won’t be seen until 2018 most likely, especially with the likes of Gregorious and Castro blocking them. Beyond their top three guys, the Yankees still have plenty of players who could make a major-league impact once it’s their time. Simply, there is a lot to be excited about when it comes to the team’s future.

The Yankees will have the 17th overall pick in next year’s draft, so they will be in familiar position after having the 16th and 18th picks in the two previous years. Their first-round picks in recent years have both been ones that I personally like, but who wouldn’t? James Kaprielian is shining in the Arizona Fall League and Blake Rutherford looks like a steal at the 18th pick, especially after his hot start to his pro career. This year will hopefully prove to be another that produces some good picks.

The Offseason

With the Yankees pretty much set with position players, there’s no reason to add any pricey free agents. It also wouldn’t be wise to block some of their young players out to prove themselves or ones that are close to ready in the minors. Pitching is another story.

As I stated before, their starting pitching has question marks when it comes to Sabathia’s age, Pineda’s consistency and Severino bouncing back. There also aren’t many pitchers on the free-agent market that stand out. Overpaying for Rich Hill would be contradictory to what the Yankees are trying to do in becoming younger, but his dominance when healthy is something that can’t be questioned. It wouldn’t be a bad move to sign him, but it would add yet another question mark to their rotation due to his injury history. Signing him also wouldn’t help any towards getting under the luxury tax, which Steinbrenner would like to do.

The only free-agent acquisition that I would like to see is a top-notch reliever, which means one of Chapman, Kenley Jansen or Mark Melancon. Jansen is likely going back to the Dodgers and Melancon would be yet another righty for the bullpen. A reunion with Chapman would be the best move. Pairing him with Betances again would put the bullpen in great shape. It’s just that it will cost a lot.

In terms of trading, I am one that is all for trading Gardner, Ellsbury and/or Brian McCann. Ellsbury’s contract probably means he’s staying, but Gardner will be easy to move if Brian Cashman can get the right return. Some reports have said that a swap of him for a middle-of-the-rotation pitcher could work, and that would be just what the Yankees need. McCann will have high demand this offseason with multiple teams needing catchers and not enough free agents to go around. The Yankees will have to eat a good chunk of his contract to get anything of value in return, but it shouldn’t be a problem as they’d be shedding a good portion of his $17-million-per-year contract. It would also give younger players like Bird, Austin and Judge a chance to DH.

The Braves have been said to want a reunion with McCann but won’t trade Mike Foltynewicz for him. The Yankees will do well if they can eat about half of his contract and get a couple middling prospects with some upside.

With such a deep farm, the Yankees also have the ability to trade for a front-of-the-rotation starter. Landing one of the top guys on the trade market probably isn’t in their best interests, though. To get one of Chris Sale, Chris Archer or Sonny Gray will cost a good portion of what the Yankees were able to get for Chapman and Miller. Instead, they should look to trade from depth for a guy that is a step down from the others. With Torres looking like the better middle-infield prospect, trading Mateo as the headliner of a package for a starter would be a good move and won’t impact the team’s future too much.

In Summary

In an ideal scenario, the Yankees will sign one of the top relievers to pair with Betances, stand pat on other free agents and see how Cashman can work the trade market for a third straight offseason. The Yankees likely aren’t a top contender next season, but the potential is there. If things break right with Judge, Bird, Sanchez and the rotation, they could find themselves at the top of the A.L. East. Right now, though, they should look to continue development of their top-three farm system and look at 2018 as the year to really contend.

USD undergraduate student. Student of the game.

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7 years ago

maybe this trade would work for both teams is trading for weigel and gant in exchange for mccann and a big chunk of many to pay for his salary (about 15 million)