Yankees: Envisioning What The Franchise Will Look Like In 2020

Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports
Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports /

The Yankees of 2017-2018 are widely viewed as a team and franchise in transition. By 2020, the dust will have settled. What will the Yankees look like then?

Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner has sold the team. The managing partner is, Derek Jeter, who has put together a conglomerate of investors that includes, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Spike Lee, and Alex Rodriguez. At the traditional owner’s Spring Training press conference, The net sum of Jeter’s  remarks center on the fact that the Yankees, while having made the playoffs in 2018 and 2019, have only one goal in mind for the upcoming season, and merely making the playoffs just won’t cut it again.

The Yankees Of Old – Where Are They Now?

As you look around the field, many of the familiar faces of the recent past are gone. C C Sabathia was not offered a contract after the 2017 season, in which he struggled to stay healthy, and is now the roving minor league pitching instructor for the Yankees.

Jacoby Ellsbury, at the age of 36, is still with the team and is in what should (finally) be his last season in Pinstripes. The Yankees have a club option at $21 million for the 2021 season, but there’s no measure of sanity telling them to pick it up. Good riddance.

Brett Gardner finished out his contract and became a free agent in 2019. The Yankees did not extend him an offer, and he took a one-year deal with the Oakland A’s. Currently, he is looking for a job at the age of 36.

Michael Pineda pitched well enough to earn a one-year deal for 2018, but the young crop of Yankees starters overwhelmed him, and the team did not tender him a contract for the 2019 season.

Derek Jeter vs. Brian Cashman

Brian Cashman is in the third and final year of the contract extension he received following the 2017 season is feeling the heat, and most of it is coming from Jeter who is proving himself to be as earnest and dogged in his insistence on winning as he was as a player. Perhaps, even more.

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The owners and players have agreed to amend their bargaining agreement by eliminating arbitration from the process altogether. But in return for that, the players insisted on and won a reduction in the number of years a player is under team control for four years before he becomes a free agent.

As a result, Jeter is pressing Cashman to lock up contract extensions on the Baby Bombers from the class of 2017-18. The trouble is, though, that except for Gleyber Torres, who has manifested into everything he was predicted to be, they can’t agree on which players are worthy of an extension.

Aaron Judge has morphed into the second coming of Mark Trumbo and is delivering 35-40 home runs a year, but he has not been able to corral his tendencies to strike out. And mainly because of his height at 6’7″, he is always afflicted with minor injuries that keep him out of the lineup for one or two games on a regular basis.

Greg Bird has developed into a steady player, who most often is being compared to Jon Olerud. He hits for average, plays an excellent first base, but is lacking in the power department at a position where home runs and run production are required. Nevertheless, Derek Jeter likes him a lot due to his work ethic and willingness to do whatever the team needs of him.

Gary Sanchez falls in just behind Gleyber Torres as a must sign. Sanchez, by now, is a mainstay on the All-Star team and is about to be named Captain of the team by Jeter. Already, though, there is annual talk about moving him to a position other than catcher, where he has been taking a beating, and it’s beginning to reflect on his hitting, which has been outstanding.

Between Torres and Sanchez, their annual salaries, once extensions are in place, will comprise about one-fifth of the Yankees $300 million annual payroll, which ranks them (still) in the top five of major league teams. But, the luxury tax is now something the Yankees build into their annual budget for salaries, and the ever practical Jeter is okay with that.

Newly Added Yankees

By nature, the fiscally conservative Jeter has reluctantly delved into the free agent market. But with the exception of signing Manny Machado as the replacement for Chase Headley, his concentration has been focused on signing free agent starting pitchers. In one of the last moves made by Hal Steinbrenner, Jake Arrieta was signed following the 2017 season and is now manning the rotation as the number one guy. Jeter is now in search of a stopper equal to the ability of Arrieta, who is still only 33 but much like Sabathia before him is starting to show the wear and tear from all those innings pitched with the Cubs and the Yankees.

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Masahiro Tanaka was cajoled by the Yankees and a massive outcry from fans to not exercise his opt-out rights after the 2017 season. Health issues have returned, however, and he can only be counted on making 25 or so starts over a season, and more often than not is given six days between starts to lengthen his career with the Yankees.

The Yankees have been fortunate with the development of James Kaprielian, Chance Adams, and Justus Sheffield, all of whom are now rock solid in the starting rotation. For this reason, the Yankees decided to pass on Matt Harvey, who campaigned vigorously for a chance to pitch for the Pinstripes before eventually returning to the Mets.

The one area where the Yankees have been unable to solidify someone is the manager of the team. As expected, Joe Girardi was not offered a contract after the 2017 season. But there is talk now of bringing him back for another year or two, mostly because the Baby Bombers are no longer babies and Girardi works best with a team of veterans.

No longer with the team is Tyler Austin who was traded for a reliable set-up man in the bullpen to replace Dellin Betances, who was also traded. Rob Refsnyder is now playing second base for the New York Mets, and Starlin Castro was traded to make room at second base for Gleyber Torres.

Next: The Five Most Effective Pitchers In Yankees History

The Yankees are expected to draw as many as four million fans to Yankees Stadium in 2020 for the second consecutive season.