Yankees Winter Meetings Wrap-Up: Still Work to Be Done


With the Rule 5 Draft over and done with, the 2015 MLB Winter Meetings have officially come to a close down in Nashville, Tennessee.

However, this doesn’t signal the end of free agent signings or trades to fine tune MLB rosters as they move forward. For some, the MLB winter meetings are just the beginning, and according to Yankees GM Brian Cashman, the Yankees are one of those teams.

"“It is still incomplete,” Cashman told ESPN senior writer Andrew Marchand. “We are addressing areas of need, without a doubt. There are still steps in the process that I would like to take.“"

Despite getting off to a slow start, Brian Cashman certainly did a lot during the MLB Winter Meetings to bolster the future of the New York Yankees, especially in terms of adding offense and position players. Unfortunately this came at the expense of the Yankees pitching staff, and the bullpen, which was once the teams biggest strength prior to the Winter Meetings, is now one of the teams biggest needs of improvement.

"“I think [hitting coach] Alan Cockrell is loving me and I think [pitching coach] Larry Rothschild is not liking me,” Cashman told Marchand. “Alan probably has a nice Christmas card coming and I’m getting coal from Larry right now.“"

Obviously Cashman was referring to the trades that sent two major bullpen pieces – Adam Warren and Justin Wilson packing for Starlin Castro and two prospects from the Detroit Tigers.

But between now and Spring Training Brian Cashman needs to address the rest of the Yankees needs, which are still younger and controllable starting pitching and now a refined bullpen.

Coming into spring training the Yankees biggest need was young controllable starting pitching. By trading Justin Wilson the Yankees sacrificed their left-handed specialist and seventh inning swing-man in order to acquire a pair of Triple-A staters in Luis Cessa and Chad Green. Not only did the Yankees add a pair of young pitchers to join Bryan Mitchell as emergency starters just in case someone goes down to injury from the big league rotation, but he also added two young arms with twelve years of combined control between them.

While the addition of both Cessa and Green provide starting pitching insurance, I still believe the Yankees are on the hunt for young major-league ready pitching who they can plug into the rotation right away. That said, I wouldn’t say Andrew Miller, Ivan Nova or Brett Gardner are necessarily safe just yet, and they are probably the three biggest trade chips still in play for the Yankees if they want to flip them for starting pitching.

Even though Brian Cashman was adamant that he was content on platooning Rob Refsnyder and Dustin Ackley at second base in 2015, I think everyone knew one of the Yankees biggest needs was upgrading at second base.

Thus, the Yankees biggest headline out of the MLB Winter Meetings was trading their most versatile bullpen asset in Adam Warren and infield utility-man Brendan Ryan to the Chicago Cubs for three time All-Star Starlin Castro.

Sure there are some question marks surrounding Castro and the Yankees taking on the remaining $37 million on his current contract, but a player of his caliber is well worth the risk. Not only does he provide the Yankees with a starting second baseman for the first since the Robinson Cano era, but he is young, athletic and just entering the prime of his career.

Next, the Yankees were supposed to be looking to strengthen their bullpen during the MLB Winter Meetings. But as you can tell, they did the exact opposite, but for good reason. They lost Adam Warren and Justin Wilson and there’s still a possibility they trade Andrew Miller. That said, the only significant bullpen arm that appears safe is the 27-year old Dellin Betances.

Also, with plenty of young bullpen arms getting their first taste of big league action last season, the Yankees can look to guys like ‘the strikeout factory’ Jacob Lindgren, Chasen Shreve and James Pazos to be big-league regulars in 2016.

Still, Brian Cashman will likely make a surplus of moves to enhance the Yankees bullpen prior to spring training simply because skipper Joe Girardi is a bullpen first kid of guy.

Despite constant criticism from the Yankees fan base, Brian Cashman proved during the 2015 Winter Meetings that he’s still one of the best GM’s in the business, whether you disagree with his moves or not.

He accomplished a ton, but if the Yankees want to contend in 2016 and beyond he still has plenty more to do.

Stay tuned.

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