The Yankees magical 2017 season ended on Saturday night in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series against the Houston Astros. While the team’s “estimate time of arrival” is obviously much ahead of schedule, the Yankees are now planning on the near future, rather than winning its’ 28th World Series title.
The Yankees still have one of the greatest farm systems in baseball, and they now have at least $66.4 million dollars coming off of their checkbooks, as Alex Rodriguez is no longer owed money, and CC Sabathia, Matt Holliday, Michael Pineda, and Matt Holliday will be free agents. Add the contracts the Yankees picked up while acquiring Todd Frazier and Jamie Garcia, and the numbers adds up to over $72 million. That numbers could stretch to over $95 million if Masahiro Tanaka decides to opt out of his contract. Also, Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman are without contracts for 2018 and beyond.
The Yankees are now in a position where they officially have to think about those circumstances, so with that being said, here are 5 things the Yankees need to do in this offseason to be even better.
- Re-sign Joe Girardi
He is not perfect. No manager is. Yankee fans can question his in-game decisions all they want (which is a discussion for another day), but Girardi is at his best when he manages a young team – look at 2006. Remember, Girardi has had to manage former teammates while losing two legends to retirement and, at the time, maybe the best player in baseball to free agency. While doing all of this, Girardi kept the Yankees afloat, even though they weren’t supposed to sniff the postseason. Even this year, a team that would’ve been happy with the second Wild Card won 91 games and was one win away from the World Series. That says a lot about Girardi, how he is able to manage men for six-to-seven months, and how much respect the players have for him. Girardi has an opportunity to make himself a Hall of Fame manager if he re-signs. Girardi has kept a lot of people scratching heads on whether or not he’ll return, but it would be foolish for the Yankees to willingly move on.
2. Sign JD Martinez
With Matt Holliday gone, the Yankees do not have a true designated hitter on their roster – Gary Sanchez is the catcher (more on that very soon). While the Yankees platooned the DH spot for most of the postseason, that was partially because they didn’t really trust anyone in that spot until Chase Headley started hitting in the ALCS. The Yankees do not want to keep platooning DH’s and third basemen, especially if Todd Frazier is re-signed and Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar are in the major leagues. While they are not necessarily moves that need to be made in the offseason, the Yankees have some steady trade-bait with Headley and Starlin Castro that could make room for Torres and Martinez in the short, and then eventually, long-term future.
3. Fix Gary Sanchez’s defensive woes
This ties into why the Yankees need to sign JD Martinez – The Yankees are not going to give up on this guy’s defense and sign a catcher – he’ll be 25 years old on Opening Day. The Yankees had Jorge Posada as an every day catcher for 14 years – he turned out alright. But the Yankees expectations are high, and Sanchez has oddly been on the sharper eyes of many more Yankee fans than Posada ever was. Despite his incredible arm and unreal offensive talent, there were many times this season where Sanchez just looked lost behind the dish. Sanchez is an incredible baseball player, but he can be so much better.
4. Re-sign Todd Frazier and CC Sabathia
These two are the leaders of this team. Sure, Aaron Judge might win the MVP as a rookie; Didi Gregorius is making people forget about Derek Jeter; Brett Gardner is the longest-tenured Yankee; and Todd Frazier has been in New York for about five minutes. But Frazier made his presence known, and he has said that the Yankees had welcomed him with wide open arms, making the third baseman not afraid to be a leader despite his short tenure in the Bronx. Even though his average is low, he has a great glove at the hot corner and could give you 30+ home runs. His attitude is needed in that clubhouse. He started the Thumbs Down movement, and it seemed like the Yankees only got closer because of him. Sabathia, outside of Game 7, showed up every time the Yankees needed him in 2017. Entering Saturday night, he was 10-0 with a 1.68 ERA following a Yankee loss this season. He had re-invented himself from a power arm to a finesse pitcher and played a vital role for the Yankees this year. Sabathia hated hearing the word “rebuild” last year. He wants one more ring – he wants to stay in New York. He can do both as early as next season, as he has earned himself a one- or two-year deal.
5. Re-sign Brian Cashman so he can do all of the above.
Brian Cashman’s rebuild last five weeks. He got Didi Gregorius for Shane Greene. He essentially got Starlin Castro and Gleyer Torres for four mid-level prospects. He got Aaron Hicks for John Ryan Murphy. He got Todd Frazier, David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle, and Sonny Gray for a player who wouldn’t make the big leagues for five years, two injured prospects, and a player who was getting lower and lower on the Yankees top-prospect lists. What Cashman has done with the Yankees is just pure genius. Even though the future is looking bright, there is still some work to be done. With several free agents, this team is currently incomplete. But they are truly a piece or two away from having a true dynasty that’s in its beginning phases, and Cashman has a lot of tools available to him to complete the building.
Get Chance Adams ready. He probably would’ve been on the MLB roster if he were on the 40-man, but with Sabathia and Tanaka question marks, he’s going to play a big role next year.
Trade Dellin Betances. He looked lost, but the Yankees weren’t lost without him. Sure, his highs are very high, but the Yankees have a very decent bullpen without him, and it’s unclear how often he’d be used. He struggled with a limited number of innings, and that trend could continue.
Trade Starlin Castro. Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar are on the way. The Yankees would love to have Todd Frazier back. It would be too crowded. The Yankees could get a lot in return for a guy who already has over 1,000 hits at age 27.