Consider this an early, early, mock draft for the next three-plus seasons. What will the Yankees possibly look like in four years? One thing is for sure; they won’t wake up Rip Van Winkle-style with the lengthy facial hair. Here’s my prognostication on the Yankees future.
1. Few names will be the same- With the ages and contract sizes of current players, most players will not return for 2018. Mark Teixeira? Gone. C.C. Sabathia? Back to the National League. Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Beltran? Adios. Each player so far would be at least 38-years-old by this point. Derek Jeter, Brian Roberts, Hiroki Kuroda, and sadly even Ichiro Suzuki will all be retired. The only familiar faces will be Brian McCann, Brett Gardner, and Jacoby Ellsbury in their mid 30s, and Masahiro Tanaka firing filthy splitter after filthy splitter. Yangervis Solarte will become untradeable, playing consistently at either shortstop or second base (I have a hunch the team will sign a big name third baseman for power), and David Robertson will be on the verge of his fifth consecutive 30-save season.
2. Renewed persistence in the farm system- When the “Core Four” arrived in 1995, they were godsends for the Yankees’ organization. Nearly twenty years later, very few Yanks have been homegrown since then. With the exceptions of Robertson, Gardner, Solarte, and Robinson Cano, most Yankee starters have been purchased, not drafted. Surely the front office realizes that after Jeter retires, the Yankees will need a new face for the franchise. Maybe Tanaka will be “the guy”, but hitters are just naturally more marketable; home runs and flashy fielding are sexy. The Yankees will start doing their homework on prospects again, and hope to find either the next Jeter (or at least Bernie Williams), or search for more diamonds in the rough like Solarte. Plus, the club will start looking overseas more.
3. Money will flow- The Yankees won’t spend as much as 2014, the team would go bankrupt. Yet at the same time, the organization is not going to abnegate itself from baseball’s luxury players. If a Joey Votto-type player hits the market, the Yankees will spend big money. The Yankees will probably pursue Josh Hamilton, who becomes a free agent in 2018, hoping he can recreate his 2008 Home Run Derby performance (hey, if the Yankees traded for Vernon Wells from the Angels, they will sign Josh Hamilton once he leaves L.A.). Cashman will still be GM, and he will find pitchers to complement Tanaka and Chase Whitley (when he becomes a solid Major Leaguer), such as Trevor Bauer, who is arbitration eligible in 2017 and has loads of natural talent. Although I think the Yankees will finally have a year below the luxury tax, but just one.
4. Don’t expect championships- Even the most optimistic of fans should not expect the next sports dynasty within the next five years. Gary Sanchez might pull a Jesus Montero and be traded, Michael Pineda may or may not continue to throw hard, and the Yankees will be a fringe playoff team, like a better hitting form of the Pirates.
Still, my tarot cards could be wrong and Mason Williams will be the 2017 AL MVP. At this point, the Yankees’ future looks somewhat murky. Of course, 2018 is far away; it’s June and the Yanks are in third place in the AL East. Let’s just enjoy watching the future Hall of Famers today, and worry about 2018 next season.