A disappointing finish to the 2020 season. Yankees lose to the Rays 2-1 in Game 5 of the ALDS. What can the team do to propel themselves to a World Series?
Photo: New York Post
I mean, I don’t know what to say about this. I have had some of these thoughts penned for the offseason, but I did not expect to be publishing this so soon. When the Yankees clobbered the Indians, took two from the Rays and had the damn bastard Astros waiting for them in the ALCS, I was certain that this year was the Yankees year. That certainty diminished, and a flurry of negative emotions settled in. I am upset, I am angry, and I am disappointed.
The 2020 Yankees went from one of the hottest teams this year to the absolute worst. They battled the injury bug yet again and made no significant moves at the deadline. The team got healthy, and they rose to back at the top. Then, out of nowhere, they fell right back down and limped into the playoffs. The title run ended with an all-out battle against the latest rival, and even after typing out all of this, I am speechless.
Game 5, win or go home. Aaron Judge delivered a key home run in a Bronx Bombers matter, but the remainder of the offense had no gas left in the tank. Gerrit Cole, on short rest, gave us all he could. He dueled in his final outing this season, posting six innings with one hit and one run, plus nine strikeouts. Zack Britton was lights out yet again. Along comes, Aroldis Chapman, who you would think can finish it off. Nope.. he blows it in the playoffs yet again. He gives up a home run in the 8th inning at that was all she wrote. Why was he pitching the 8th when Britton was phenomenal? I have no idea, I can't wait to hear Boone's excuse.
The Rays were the biggest pain of the ass this season, both with their antics and with their play, but give credit where credit is due. The ALCS is now the battle of two evils, a new division rival and the trash banging cheaters. I’m rooting for whoever comes out of the NL.
I digress. This may be a way too early piece of writing, but none the less, the Yankees offseason starts NOW. They have some serious work to do in the coming months, not only to win next year but to win for years to come. Time to put some fire under Brian Cashman’s ass. The clock is ticking with this squad, and no matter how dominant of a GM he is, the Yankees should not be in this long of a World Series drought. The Steinbrenner’s are going to need to open up their wallets again and get creative.
Photo: River Ave Blues
Starting Lineup and Bench
The number one priority this offseason is to sign D.J. LeMahieu to an extension. DJ with RISP is awe-inspiring. The reigning batting champion has been the Yankees MVP for the past two seasons. He is the catalyst of the team and should be the AL MVP. He wants to stay, but he is not taking a home team discount, and frankly, I don’t blame him. A lot of teams would die to have a player like that, and I don’t see the Yankees whiffing at this opportunity. Give him a blank check. But realistically a four-year $80-million-dollar deal sounds like what will happen. Losing DJ would be brutal. It may open the door for the to welcome back Didi or to trade for Lindor, resulting in shifting Torres back to second base, but I want DJ and so does all of New York.
Benching Gary Sanchez for most of the playoffs shows that the Yankees have lost faith in Gary Sanchez. Fellow blogger Jake Zimmer already went into detail about Gary’s play a few weeks back.
It is sad and unfortunate that we have to give up on Gary, but this move made it clear that they are done with “The Kraken”. Gary Sanchez can be a top-three catcher, but his inconsistency and struggles are pushing him out of that conversations. The Yankees are not going to be running with Higgy and another random catcher. I am in no way discrediting Kyle Higashioka. What a year for him. His bat erupted when we needed him the most. He had rarely any defensive errors. He also took on the role of Cole's personal catcher. Higashiosaka is a very solid backup, he is not a full-time starter.
We also can not wait for the plethora of catching prospects (Austin Wells, Anthony Siegler, Josh Breaux, and Antonio Gomez). One of these young kids will get their shot, but it’s not anytime soon.
There is also Erik Kratz, who filled a valuable role on the team as more of a player-coach. The 40-year-old is fun to have around, so I hope that he becomes a coach in their system, but he is not the catcher we need. Realmuto would be the answer to so many questions and actually be reliable.
Phillies star catcher, J.T. Realmuto, is the number one catcher on the market and in the league. Many teams will be looking to add him, like the Mets or even the Braves, but the Yankees should be the ones to land him. The Yanks were heavily interested in him during last year’s trade deadline, but the Phillies swooped in and traded their top prospect, Sixto Sanchez, for him.
Photo: New York Daily News
With that being said, the Yankees will look to trade Gary. He is an All-Star, still on an affordable contract, who is "improving" his defense, and possesses a bat that hot; is at the top of the league. A guy that would make the team so much stronger, is Brewers relief pitcher, Josh Hader.
To land a guy like Hader, the team will likely need to pair a player to this trade. Well, there is another guy who has fallen out of the Yankees trust tree, and that guy is Miguel Andujar. Miggy doesn’t have a role on this team after the stealthy defense and resurging offense of Gio, and his botched attempt to play the corner outfields. I don’t want to give up on Andujar, but him not being on the postseason roster let alone in the majors most of the season, shows that the Yankees are ready to move on.
Do I think this trade will happen? I don’t know. Possibly? It is not out of the question. The Yankees have been interested in Hader for quite some time, and they have checked in with the Brewers the past two seasons. Either way, if the Yanks land Realmuto, Gary will be traded. I think Andujar will be as well. Package them together with a prospect, and you can get some serious return.
Photo: Call to the Pen
Here is what offense and lineup would look like after all of this is said and done.
· C – J.T. Realmuto
· 1B – Luke Voit
· 2B – D.J. LeMahieu
· SS – Gleybar Torres
· 3B – Gio Urshela
· LF – Clint Frazier
· CF – Aaron Hicks
· RF – Aaron Judge
· DH – Giancarlo Stanton
· Bench – Kyle Higashiosaka (C), Mike Ford (1B), Thairo Estrada (INF/OF), Estevan Florial (IF/OF), Mike Tauchman (OF).
They may keep Tyler Wade on the bench instead of Estrada or Florial, but I don’t know if he has a solidified role on the team. 2020 showed his weaknesses and I am all for moving on from him.
Not sure what the Yanks and Brett Gardner are thinking and feeling, but I don’t see him returning. Right now, I have him listed as letting him walk, but after his postseason performance, I think they may bring him back. Yet another team will most likely pay him more. If the team wants to make some other signings, they aren’t going to pay Brett another $10 million a year, it just won’t happen. This one is difficult.
It is heartbreaking to watch Gardy leave, but he is creating a clear logjam for Clint Frazier, who was so hot when he had consistent playing time. Brett still has some gas in the tank. If he wants to come back on a very affordable one-year deal, I wouldn’t hate it, but I wouldn’t t love it. I also would prefer Tauchman over Gardner as a player. As a leader, it is a tough hole to fill, just like CC. Watching him in another uniform after so many years is sad, but the Yankees need to move forward.
Photo: Elite Sports NY
It was clear all season that the Yankees needed starting pitching. Gerrit Cole did have a true Gerrit Cole year but this season was weird as hell. However, he has been the best signing since CC Sabathia, even in a shortened season. It is obvious we need help in this department. Fortunately, the Yankees have reinforcements coming with Luis Severino and Domingo German. Sevy was out for the year with Tommy John, and German faced an 81 game suspension for domestic violence. We don’t know what both of these pitchers will look like next year, so it is safe to say that the Yankees look into the free-agent pool.
The 2020 free-agent class of starting pitching isn’t the strongest, but there are some decent names available. Some attention-grabbing players that they might look into are Marcus Stroman, Chris Archer, Kevin Gausman, Mike Minor, Robbie Ray, or even Ivan Nova. There are some older players like Corey Kluber, Adam Wainwright, Jake Arrieta, Mike Fiers, Gio Gonzalez, Cole Hammels, and Rich Hill who the Yankees might consider as holdovers for their younger players waiting in the wings.
But the real target is the hottest commodity this year, and that is Trevor Bauer. The likely NL C.Y Young and Reds Pitcher had himself an incredible year. He will be on many teams' wish lists, including the crosstown rival Mets. The Yanks were linked to his last season at the deadline when the Indians ultimately shipped him of the Cincinnati. Now, supposedly he and Gerrit Cole had some beef, but Trevor Bauer wants to win. They won together at UCLA and this can be a match made in heaven. The Yankees are in a position to win, and Bauer isn’t a fan of long-term contracts. The Yankees can offer him a high volume, low year contract, and he would love it. Trevor Bauer is a fun guy on Twitter and loves to troll, and he began hinting towards a possible signing, which left Yankee fans drooling.
The Yankees do also have three starting pitchers slated for free agency. Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, and JA Happ. How will they decide between the three? The first is a no brainer, you let JA Happ walk. Thank you for your service, but your watch has ended. Nothing against him, when the Yanks traded for him back in 2018, he provided what the team needed. He went 7-0 with a 2.69 ERA. He digressed ever since. The question will be whether to resign either Paxton or Tanaka because they will not sign both. My pick would be Masahiro Tanaka. If we let Gardner walk, I am not ready to see Tanaka leave too. He has been here since 2014 and has been everything and more than expected. He pitches exceptionally well in the playoffs, and it also a great business move regarding the Japanese market. Paxton was not the pitcher we traded Justus Sheffield for, and he is constantly hurt. He will probably end up like a Sonny Gray and do well elsewhere, but his time in Pinstripes should be coming to an end. Here is what I think the rotation will look like.
1. Gerrit Cole
2. Trevor Bauer
3. Luis Severino
4. Masahiro Tanaka
5. Domingo German
If this is the case, the Yankees would sure be World Series favorites. You essentially have three aces and two pitchers who would be top-end starters around the league. This is a formula for a World Series contender; a World Series favorite.
Photo: Pinstripe Alley
A strong suit for the Yankees is supposedly the bullpen. They have the firepower, but manager Aaron Boone mismanaged them this year. As mentioned, after watching Chapman hand Game 5 of the ALDS to the Rays, the Yankees need to make a move. Now if we have strong starting pitching, you wouldn’t need to heavily rely on the bullpen. However, having a strong bullpen can rest the starters throughout the season. If the Yankees want to win, they are going to need to fill some holes. This is where the above trade idea comes to play. Josh Hader would be an incredible pickup that would create a juggernaut of a bullpen. A bullpen like this should cause fear to many teams.
· Jordan Montgomery
· Deivi Garcia
· Jonathon Loaisiga
· Chad Green
· Tommy Kahnle
· Adam Ottavino
· Josh Hader
· Zack Britton
· Aroldis Chapman
There a few things the Yanks can do to change this up. If they don’t sign a starter, they can rely on Garcia and Montgomery. I think they will sign a starter, which will allow Garcia to master his craft. I enjoy Gumby, but his clock is ticking. He did impress in Game 4 of the ALDS, which makes me still believe in him. Personally, I think would do well as a long relief pitcher, similar to Loaisiga. I have both Clarke Schmidt and Mike King starting in the minors. This will give them an opportunity to get them consistent starts and playing time, while also keeping them warm for any unforeseen injuries. You also have Jonathan Holder and Ben Heller, but they aren’t as good as the above listed. Not to mention the youth movement brewing, with Nick Nelson, Brooks Kriske, Miguel Yajure, Luis Gil, and Albert Abreu all on the 40-man. They essentially can be plugged and played throughout the season or start the year on the team. I am excited to see what pitching coach, Matt Blake, has in store.
The Final Component, Manager Aaron Boon
I debated adding this or not, but you know what? I am incredibly disappointed in the manager, Aaron Boone. You can’t judge a guy on one season, but Boone had so many mistakes this year. Aaron Boone can be the best manager in baseball or make the worst calls in the game, and there is no in-between. Yes, he had back to back 100 win seasons, but the roster is so talented, you would be furious if they didn't win 100 games. I am not one to live in the past, but Joe Girardi would have brought this team to the World Series at least once in the last three seasons.
All year long it was thing after thing. Not being honest about Judge's injury. Hyping up Clint but not playing him. Waiting to utilize Deivi Garcia and Clarke Schmidt. Opening Garcia then swapping in Happ in ALDS Game 2 (which was the main reason why we lost this season). The icing on the cake this season was taking Britton out and putting that much pressure on Chapman was just the absolute wrong call. I would not be surprised if he was on the hot seat this offseason.
I like Boone a lot. He is energetic and cares. Does he have heart? Yes. Does he give a shit about the players? Absolutely? Can he manage the most talented group of players and propel them to a world series title? I am starting to doubt. I don’t think he will be fired, but if the Yankees do not win in 2021, we will be searching for the next Yankees manager.
Photo: New York Amsterdam News
Overview of Offseason Moves
Before #YankeesTwitter crucifies me, this blog is all hypothetical. This is my wishlist and this is what I feel that the Yankees should do to win it all. It is hard to get a read on the Yanks brass, but what we do know is that 1) they need starting pitching, 2) Gary has fallen out of the trust tree in regards to catching, and 3) they love to bolster the bullpen. Everything written above checks the boxes and propels the team to the playoffs and beyond, ultimately helping to secure the coveted World Series ring. To recap, here are the moves and possible contract amounts that may take place. Not a math guy, so I am taking a huge guess on the contract values.
· Resign DJ LeMahieu – 4 years, $80 Million
· Resign Masahiro Tanaka – 2 years, $25 Million
· Sign J.T. Realmuto - 4 years, $64 Million
· Sign Trevor Bauer – 2 years, $40 Million
· Trade Gary Sanchez, Miguel Andujar for Brewers RP Josh Hader
· Let James Paxton, JA Happ, and Brett Gardner walk.
Free agency and club options happen around a week after the World Series, sometime between late October and early November. This is followed by winter meetings, which are December 6th-10th. When things come to fruition, I will keep you updated. Let the waiting games begin.