Despite the incredibly successful season the Yankees are coming off of, there are still some major holes to fill on the roster. Let’s take a look at the seven biggest priorities the Yankees should have this offseason…
1. Find a Manager
We all know about the firing of Joe Girardi that occurred a few weeks back. But we can’t keep dwelling on the past… and whether or not Brian Cashman should have had a plan in place to replace him. Now, there are no teams with managing vacancies, and technically, the Yankees could sit back, relax, and interview everyone they know. But in my opinion, the Yankees need to have a sense of urgency, so they can go about the rest of their business in simply putting a coaching staff and ballclub together. The five candidates who we know have been interviewed were Aaron Boone, Eric Wedge, Chris Woodward, Rob Thomson, and Hensley Muelens. To some, this list may be alarming because only Wedge has experience managing, and he did not do so well in his prior jobs. But when you look at Dave Roberts and A.J. Hinch, the two managers who managed in the World Series, neither had prior coaching experience before assuming the manager role of a big market team. This is the way baseball is going. Fanrag Sports Jon Heyman reported that the Yankees were impressed by Boone and Muelens. They both donned pinstripes, cater to analytics, and stress the importance of communication. The importance of finding a manger is clearly and important, and my guy is…
Why? He covers all three phases the Yankees are seeking (communication, baseball experience, analytics). On top of that, he has coaching in the big leagues with big a big market team (San Francisco) and he has a close relationship with Yankees star shortstop Didi Gregorius. He impressed the Yankees with his interview, and his track record impresses me.
2. Sign Shohei Ohtani
To put it simply, Ohtani is a 23 year old phenom who has been called “the Japanese Babe Ruth“. He has pitched to an ERA of 2.8 in Japan, and in his last 525 at bats, hit over .300 with 30 homers. He can only make rookie money ($3.5M) and if he was a regular free agent, he would be making upwards of $200M. He blends perfectly with the Yankees youth movement and offers New York a ton of roster flexibility. If he is indeed posted, signing him is a must.
3. Re-sign C.C. Sabathia
You can never have enough starting pitching or leadership. C.C. is a mentor to the young players and had his best season since 2012. He has reinvented himself with his offspeed pitches, and will not command more than a 1 or 2 year deal at around $10M. He has publicly stated he wants to be back, and the Yankees would not have been in Game 7 of the ALCS without him.
4. Open up an infield spot
With Tyler Wade, Gleyber Torres, Miguel Andujar, and Thairo Estrada all on the 40 man roster and coming fast, a trade of Starlin Castro or Ronald Torreyes has to be explored. Didi Gregorius is going nowhere, Chase Headley will not block anyone, and Greg Bird is the Yankees First Basemen. Todd Frazier will go elsewhere in the offseason, so that opens up one spot, but with four big time young players coming, clearing a spot is crucial.
5. Chief, anyone?
To briefly sum it up, Jacoby Ellsbury has no place on this team and if the Yankees can find a taker of his services, don’t hesitate.
6. Upgrade Backup Catcher
Austin Romine simply isn’t good. He ranked in the bottom of the league in all offensive categories, and was sub-par at best on defense. Alex Avila and Miguel Montero are out there, and their lefty bats and defensive skills would help enormously as Gary Sanchez can’t catch everyday. Their leadership could help Sanchez in the blocking department, and could make up for some of his bat on a Sanchez day off.
7. Explore a Didi Gregorius extension
Didi proved last year why he is worthy of being the Yankees shortstop for years to come. He has an arbitration case coming up, and we know the Yankees aren’t the best at handling those (Dellin Betances). By extending Didi, the Yankees would not have to worry about arbitration cases, could ensure Didi he is their guy, and keep him away from free agency. He would likely be valued at around $15-17M a year. The bottom line is that there is no one on the Yankees who is more worthy of a raise than Didi, and extending him now will eliminate further possible disputes and unhappiness. Do it, Cash!