Sources: Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images; Maddie Meyer/Getty Images; Matthew Stockman/Getty Images; Greg Fiume/Getty Images
A few weeks ago, I wrote about what the New York Yankees should do this off-season here. However, since I wrote that, a lot has changed.
The Boston Red Sox are World Series Champions, which puts even more pressure on the Yankees to improve quickly. Being eliminated by the Red Sox in your home stadium is one thing; but seeing the Red Sox win the World Series and then celebrate with “New York, New York” in their locker room is another.
Along with that, the Yankees also got the news that Didi Gregorius needed Tommy John Surgery. He underwent a successful procedure but is expected to miss most of, if not all, of the 2019 season.
Prior to the Red Sox winning it all, I expected the Yankees to spend big this off-season. Now, I expect the Yankees to have an off-season for the ages.
Here is my previous list of things to do:
1a. Sign Manny Machado
1b. Move Miguel Andujar to first base
2. Decline Brett Gardner’s option
3a. Sign Patrick Corbin
3b. Re-sign J.A. Happ
3c. Re-sign CC Cabathia
4. Re-sign Daniel Robertson and/or Zach Britton
5. Re-sign Andrew McCutchen
6. Start Greg Bird in Triple-A
7. Trade Sonny Gray
My new list consists of many similarities, but it does have a few major changes.
To start, I think that re-signing Zack Britton and/or Andrew McCutchen is just about out of the question. Britton seems like he’s in line for a giant payday to be a team’s closer, a role that the Yankees won’t offer him. McCutchen looks like he was just a rental for a few months. The Yankees already declined Brett Gardner’s option, but then signed him to a one-year deal for less money than his option would’ve given him. That already reduces the number of open outfield spots for the Yankees, add that to one of the moves I’m going to suggest they make, and there is no room for McCutchen.
1. Sign Bryce Harper and/or Manny Machado
Yes, I put “and” in there. The chances of them signing both are incredibly low, but this is the Yankees we’re talking about. They just saw their biggest rivals be crowned Champions, so there’s no telling how much this team might spend.
In my previous article, I didn’t include Bryce Harper as an option just because I thought they would want Machado more, along with re-signing a player like McCutchen. But now, Bryce to the Yankees seems like a very real possibility. Ever since he was in high school, I’ve been looking forward to Bryce becoming a Yankee. It also helps that he has stated in the past that being a Yankee has been a dream of his. It’s going to take a lot of money and a long contract to get this done, but it’s worth it just to see how Bryce’s swing plays in Yankee Stadium for 81+ games. Also, earlier today, Harper was announced as the cover athlete for MLB 19: The Show. It seems only fitting that he signs with New York so that a Yankee is on the cover in back-to-back years.
Machado definitely hurt his value this post-season with some of his antics. He was quoted as saying that hustling isn’t his thing, and was then caught jogging down first base while blowing a gum bubble in a crucial time of the game. He also cleated two first baseman as he was stretching out to get to the bag. Not exactly the things you want to see and hear from a player who is about to enter free agency; and will command somewhere near $300 million. However, as a Yankees fan, these things make me want him in pinstripes even more. The Yankees are supposed to be The Evil Empire but have seemed to lose their identity in recent years. Signing a villain like Machado, who has a known hatred for the Red Sox, helps you get closer to being The Evil Empire once again. I’m not a fan of the lack of hustle, but I don’t mind the cleating. It’s a dirty play, but hey, Jesus Aguilar, maybe don’t have your feet halfway on the bag? Just a thought. The injury to Didi Gregorius also makes this move more likely to happen. A problem with signing Machado before the injury was that he might not be willing to play third base again. But with Didi’s injury, it leaves shortstop wide open for Manny.
The only thing standing in New York’s way of signing one or both of these guys is the number of other teams that will be bidding for their services. However, I find it hard to believe that the Yankees will enter the 2019 season without at least one of them on their roster. Personally, as of today, I think Harper is the more likely of the two. But I’ll probably flip-flop on that multiple times a week until free agency begins.
2. Sign Patrick Corbin
I originally stated that signing Corbin was the least likely to happen of the things I listed. However, as the weeks have gone by, it now seems like the most likely to happen. There have been numerous reports that the Yankees are getting ready to make a big push for the lefty and playing for the Yankees seems to be a lifelong dream for Corbin, who was born in New York and grew up in a family of Yankees fans. This marriage just seems too good to not come to fruition. 2018 was a career-best year for Corbin, and although moving from the National League to the American League, especially the AL East, will make it difficult for Corbin to replicate his 2018 production, he would still be a vast improvement to this rotation and would be a perfect number two or three starter.
3. Re-sign J.A. Happ and CC Sabathia
Nothing changes here. Sabathia seems like an absolute lock to return for the Yankees for one final season. While Happ had incredible success in his half-season in pinstripes; and should be able to come to an agreement on a two or three-year deal to be the 3rd/4th starter in New York.
4a. Re-sign Daniel Robertson
The chances of this happening all depend on whether or not another team is willing to overpay Robertson to be their closer. If the Yankees can offer him similar money to other teams, I think he stays in New York.
4b. Sign Andrew Miller
This is something I really want to see. Miller’s stats from this past season were nothing special, but that has more to do with him battling injuries than anything. When healthy, he is still one of the elite relievers in the game today. He was fantastic in his one and half years as a Yankee; and by trading him, the Yankees received two of their best prospects, Justus Sheffield and Clint Frazier, in return. With the team most likely losing Zach Britton to free agency, they are in need of another dominant lefty in the bullpen. Miller fits that bill perfectly. Also, signing Miller would re-unite the dominant faction of No Runs DMC, consisting of Miller, Dellin Betances, and Aroldis Chapman. Make it happen, Yankees. Make it happen.
5. Sign Daniel Murphy
My original thought process on this was if the team missed out on Manny Machado. If they didn’t get Manny they could move Gleyber Torres to short and then sign Murphy to be the second baseman. However, this could be a possible move even if they sign Manny, as Murphy can play first base as well. Murphy is one of the best pure hitters in the majors. For his career, which spans 10 seasons, he is a .299 hitter. He is also a lefty, which is welcomed in such a righty dominant lineup; and much like Harper, his swing would play perfectly in the Bronx.
6. Find a Solution at First Base
This is the one that stumps me. Luke Voit was incredible in the second half of the season, but the chances of him being the everyday first baseman don’t seem great. Greg Bird is an absolute disaster; and needs to figure his game out. That leaves free agency or a trade to find a first baseman.
The only free agent who I see as a possibility is the aforementioned Daniel Murphy.
In terms of in-house options, you have Voit, Bird, or Miguel Andujar, who could make the move if they sign/trade for another third baseman.
Or they could go the trade route. A few weeks ago, Joel Sherman of the New York Post opined that a deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks could be a possibility. He suggested that the Yankees could send Jacoby Ellsbury, along with some high-level prospects for Paul Goldschmidt and Zack Greinke. This seems like an insane proposition, but it does actually make some sense. Goldschmidt is on the wrong side of 30 and will be a free agent after the 2019 season. If the Diamondbacks could get something for him, instead of seeing him walk away next off-season for nothing, it would be smart to do it. Greinke is 35 years old, and still has three more seasons on his contract, where he makes more than $30 million each year. I’m sure Arizona would like to get that off of their books. Ellsbury has been a complete disaster for the Yankees. A change of scenery is much needed. He also has a no-trade clause, so he would need to approve any deal that the Yankees make for him. So why not send him to Arizona where he has an off-season home and would be most likely to waive his clause? It would also give the Diamondbacks an everyday center fielder, if Ellsbury can stay healthy, which is needed since the team is most likely losing AJ Pollock to free agency this year.
Ellsbury also makes much less than Greinke, about $10 million less per year; and has a $5 million buyout in 2021, so Arizona could get out of his contract earlier than Greinke’s. Again, this seems incredibly far-fetched and would require the Yankees to give up some big-time prospects. But at the same time, nobody thought that they would get Giancarlo Stanton last off-season. So, it’s possible to some extent.
7. Trade Sonny Gray
The only thing that has changed here is that general manager Brian Cashman came out and flat out said that the Yankees will trade Sonny this off-season. Chances of this happening are currently at 100%.
Ideal Yankees Roster
Realistic Lineup Dream Lineup
C – Gary Sanchez C- Gary Sanchez
1B – Luke Voit/Greg Bird/PTBNL 1B - Paul Goldschmidt
2B – Daniel Murphy 2B – Gleyber Torres
3B – Miguel Andujar 3B – Miguel Andujar
SS – Gleyber Torres SS - Manny Machado
LF – Bryce Harper LF - Bryce Harper
CF – Aaron Hicks CF - Aaron Hicks
RF – Aaron Judge RF - Aaron Judge
DH – Giancarlo Stanton DH – Giancarlo Stanton
Realistic Rotation Dream Lineup
1. Luis Severino 1. Luis Severino
2. Masahiro Tanaka 2. Zack Greinke
3. Patrick Corbin 3. Masahiro Tanaka
4. J.A. Happ 4. Patrick Corbin
5. CC Sabathia 5. J.A. Happ
6. CC Sabathia
Justus Sheffield/Domingo German