New York Yankees Off Season Outlook, Part 1: Outfield


The New York Yankees (well more like Hal Steinbrenner, Brian Cashman, and Joe Girardi) have a huge problem on their hands. This season you saw a lot of rookies step up when needed, and the call-ups played big factors throughout as well. Now moving forward the main issue for the Yankees is clear. Staying healthy is always a factor, but now it’s the team holding up long enough to make a legit playoff run. The only problem with that is this team has nearly no room to change. Yes, the days of giving unbelievable contracts out has finally came back to bite the Yankees in the butt. So this off-season will be spent coming up with ways to fix it. Before we get to that though, you need to see just how bad the situation is, and what no one in the organization will say, but what fans need to know. Now that the year is done I’m going to take you layer by layer and see where the Yankees stand on their contracts, and the reasons why this team is going to have a rough two years ahead of them.


Jacoby Ellsbury: 7 yr $153,000,000/Expires in 2022

Brett Gardner: 4 yr $52,000,000/Expires in 2019

Carlos Beltran: 3 yr $45,000,000/Expires in 2017

Chris Young: 1 yr 2,500,000/Expires in 2016

This is really the center-piece of the Yankees problems going forward, and I almost don’t know where to start. Right now the talk is this:

  1. Why is Jacoby Ellsbury (the most athletically built player on the team) sitting out not only in must-win games, but a Wild Card game as well?
  2. Why is Brett Gardner losing it in the second half? Is he the only player the Yankees can realistically move?
  3. Is it realistic for the Yankees to depend on Carlos Beltran again, and does he need DH time?
  4. Should the Yankees bring Chris Young back and is he reliable to stay at the fourth outfield position?

First off, this is one of the things that no one could understand and was icing on a terrible September cake made by Joe Girardi, it was close to fruitcake bad. The last two weeks Ellsbury was struggling with “injuries”, so I understood that. Then the last week where the Yankees needed one win to put themselves in a much easier position. However, Girardi held him out multiple times, and the reason was injury from Ells hitting his back on the wall. What I do not understand is how you sit your best player out in a wild card game, whether he’s been hitting lefties decently or not. So this now not only speaks to the issue of Girardi, but the issue of giving huge contracts to guys you don’t trust to hit in October. Now another problem with this is that the Yankees are stuck with Ellsbury for many years to come, is he a player that you have to rest daily throughout the year? If he is then this was a mistake from the start. Jacoby Ellsbury should not need rest at this point in his career (injuries obviously being an exception), the Yankees have too many older guys in their lineup to waste those days on Ellsbury. While I’m on that topic let me take out two birds with the Chris Young situation. Being that this outfield is oh-so injury-prone, the fourth guy behind those three is going to get significant playing time. Chris Young started out the year with huge success, he then seemed to run out at the end. If the Yankees decide to bring him back, or go in a different direction it will probably depend on a Gardner trade. Which leads me to the second issue.

Brett Gardner was right along with Ellsbury as the Yankees’ game-changers. They’re the reason the Yankees were so dominant in the first inning and why so many games were over by the fourth inning. However, come the second half Gardner vanished, yet Girardi trusted him in the Wild Card game. Gardner ended his season by getting booed by all of New York and left a boat-load of questions. Not only did he have the third worst batting average in the MLB in the second half, but this is the second year in a row now that Gardner has dropped off in the second half, is it because of his playing style? He chases down a lot of balls that some outfielders wouldn’t even think of charging. But if you’re going to get that specific, he didn’t really steal a lot this season, and he did get a couple extra days off with Chris Young making a lot of appearances for each of the outfielders. So do you trade Brett Gardner now, and hope you get something close to what you could’ve gotten before the season? Or do you stay where you’re at, which is what you’ll have to do with every position besides second base anyways.

Lastly to Beltran and how it’s literally another hit or miss year for him next season. Beltran held the Yankees together in the second half with his bat. However, can you really depend on him to do that again, and two, should the Yankees rest him more? Should Carlos have another good year? Yes, or at least his contract says so. When a player is 38 anything can happen, a switch can go off and boom that’s it. Do I see that happening? No, but it’s something you must prepare for. how can you keep him going? Get him some days as a DH and hopefully it has the same effect as it did on Alex Rodriguez earlier in the season. Beltran though did not have a good fielding year, and it will probably be worse next year. He just looked too slow to play the field and it’d be fine if the Yankees could afford to put him as the DH sometimes, but they can’t. So you have another set of options to at least make things somewhat easier. The perfect one would be getting Alex to play first when needed so Teixeira can have a day off, Alex is at first, and Beltran gets a day off from the field (which is another reason why the fourth outfielder is a key position for this team). The more realistic one would be what happened this past season where you just gave Beltran off a couple of days here and there, but again that’d have serious implication on if Gardner was here or not come 2016. Why? Because if he is they might need a bigger bat than Chris Young who just hits lefties, and if he isn’t Beltran might not afford to miss multiple games just for rest (depending on what they get back for Gardner or in free agency).

Here’s a look at left-field free agents this off-season who the Yankees could want.

Yoenis is going to want a lot of money, money that the Yankees are not looking to spend unless they take away another bigger contract they have (obviously in the outfield). The only piece they can really move is Gardner, which works out with Cesp’ being in left. Beltran would technically be better to move with his age, but that’s also the reason it probably won’t happen. So if you trade Gardner what are you wanting in return? A big pitcher would be ideal, and there’s a lot of teams who don’t have any hitters but have a good supply of pitchers. Also are you getting a starter or bullpen guy? Going into next season the biggest questions will be around the starters, however if you’re going to keep the ones who can’t go six innings the only way to counter it is get another Adam Warren-type bullpen guy. Justin Upton is more ideal to me. Fast and powerful, not as fast as Gardy, but makes up for it with power. It’s not like he isn’t fast in general though. He can easily snag 20 bags, and probably more if he had the chance to go that often , but lets keep in mind he’s been on the Braves and Padres recently. Gardner also hasn’t stole over 25 bags since 2011. Not that he can’t anymore but Girardi must think stealing bases has gone out of style. Jason Heyward would be more ideal for the Yankees if Beltran were to get traded, but as I said that’s very unlikely, so if Gardner gets moved, Heyward would move back to left. Heyward was a center fielder just a year ago so the thought isn’t impossible. The 6’5 outfielder is another very realistic target for the Yankees, and the lefty could fit well in the Bronx. However, if were speaking realistically the chances of these three being Yankees next year would be Heyward in first at 80%, Upton 70%, and Cespedes at 55%.

So in conclusion, the Yankees don’t have much breathing room, and won’t unless someone is moved. I’m almost certain the Yankees will have a new face starting in the outfield next season, and there’s only two options it can happen with, Gardner and Beltran. Who do you think should go out of the three? Should Chris Young be brought back?

In Part 2 I’ll be tackling the infield and the directions where the Yankees could go with it.

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