Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |
The Yankees are now two seasons into a new era defined by Aaron Judge and a young core. In each of those seasons, they have made the playoffs, but stalled before reaching the World Series. And while they might still be a team on the ascent, GM Brian Cashman faces a tricky offseason, at a time when American League powerhouses like Houston and Boston are ahead of the Yanks.
Here are the major questions the Yankees must confront:
How do they maintain the dominant bullpen?
The Yankees were an elite team this year in large part because of a dominant bullpen, which helped them win 100 games without a top-flight rotation. But relievers are volatile from year to year, and the Yanks are coming off two strong seasons from their pen. Can they make it three in a row?
If they do, it will have to be with shifting personnel. Zach Britton is a free agent, as is David Robertson. Dellin Betances has one year remaining on his deal. Chad Green is not as dominant as he once was, and Aroldis Chapman no longer has the fastball he once did.
Prospect Justus Sheffield was so uninspiring to the organization this year that he didn't even enter the conversation for the postseason roster.
In order to maintain a dominant pen, Cashman might have to dip into free agency, which is always the riskiest way to do it.
Is there any way to get an ace?
For half of this season, it appeared that the Yankees had a legitimate number one starter in Luis Severino. We now know that they do not -- not yet at least, and not in a world where Justin Verlander, Chris Sale and Gerrit Cole remain alive in the playoffs.
The problem is, there is no obvious way to find one this winter. The Yanks have long been interested in free-agent-to-be Patrick Corbin, who would fit, but not be that top guy. The time to trade for Verlander and Cole has passed, and there's no getting it back. The Yankees chose Sonny Gray instead.
What about Machado and the infield?
The industry expectation is that the Yankees and Phillies will be the major players for free agent superstar Manny Machado. Shortstop Didi Gregorius has another year before free agency, while third baseman Miguel Andujar does not look like he can handle that position long-term. Signing Machado is a no-brainer, if he'll come, but the question would then arise of whether to trade Gregorius, Andujar or neither. In theory, Andujar could move to first base.
What about the young core?
Cashman could decide to trade from his young core of position players, although this does not seem like the right time. Greg Bird is a talented hitter with no value; the best bet is that he will compete with Luke Voit in spring training. The only complication there is if the Yanks sign Machado and don't trade Andujar.
Gary Sanchez is coming off a bad year, but the organization seems committed to him. With Severino, you just bring him back next year and hope he grows into a more consistent pitcher.
Do you try to trade Stanton?
As John Harper pointed out in his column today, Giancarlo Stanton's flaws as a hitter were exposed this season. Given his monster contract, which runs for nine more seasons, and his full no-trade clause, he will be hard to move. But the Yanks have to make a few calls, just to see if there's a market. It's more likely they will be left to idly wish they had targeted J.D. Martinez last winter instead.