Yankees should add players who shine both on and off the field
The Yankees should bring in players who are not only outstanding in the field, but also who will improve the chemistry of the team. Much like the Red Sox have done, this will benefit the Yanks in the long run.
Arguably the best acquisition during the offseason was made by the Boston Red Sox when they inked Julio Daniel Martinez (J.D.) to a five-year, $110 million contract (almost identical to the average annual salary of Jacoby Ellsbury’s seven-year, $153 million Yankees deal).
These are the eye-popping numbers J.D. has put up as we approach the half-way point of the 2018 season: league-leading 25 home runs and 64 RBIs, a .326 batting average, .648 SLG, 3.4 WAR, and 1.050 OPS. Quite impressive.
Plus, Martinez has played well defensively in the outfield when he isn’t assuming the DH role.
But his contributions and his added value do not end there. In addition to replacing David Ortiz’s run production from last season, J.D. has also contributed in terms of clubhouse presence as manager Alex Cora recently told Mass Live.
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"He’s [Martinez] becoming a special teammate, said Cora. And what he brings to the table, it’s more than what he does on the field. He’s becoming the leader of the team in the clubhouse."
Martinez’s leadership includes his role as the team’s de facto hitting instructor. For example, J.D. has helped Rafael Devers with his batting stance, convincing him to move from an open to a closed stance.
Many other players on the team regularly consult J.D. about their stance and swing. He enjoys providing such advice, especially to young players who are new to the big leagues.
Martinez is vocal around the other players on the team, and he communicates well. Being bilingual helps him connect with nearly everyone in the clubhouse. Team chemistry has never been better according to Cora.
I don’t mean to imply that the Yankees are experiencing team chemistry problems and that the players are having trouble getting along with each other. This is far from the truth.
Instead, my point here is that the Yankees are playing exceptionally well right now, and the last thing they need is to add a player or two who will create a toxic environment and disrupt the harmony in the clubhouse. Such bad feelings will affect their play and potentially lead to failure on the ballfield.
In addition to acquiring an outstanding starting pitcher (or two) and someone who can hit and play first base, the Yankees should carefully do their homework and consider how potential additions to their roster will fit in with the present group of players.
Next: Yankees 'pen gives them an edge over the Red Sox
Such intangibles, often disregarded, matter a lot, and can provide the extra edge in a very competitive environment to help the club go all the way.