7 moves the Yankees must make after embarrassing playoff exit
It’s time for the Yankees front office to get to work. Changes must be made.
It really is a shame that a 60-game season with an expanded playoffs is going to determine the future makeup of the New York Yankees, but that’s what happens when another year ends with results that are unacceptable. If you want to call yourself a contender, you cannot play baseball in the manner in which the Yankees did in 2020.
Not only did the entire team crumble when the roster was dealing with a number of injuries, but even when they were fully healthy, they couldn’t handle business against the Tampa Bay Rays in the ALDS. While the Rays are good, the talent gap between the two teams isn’t even close. Mike Brosseau and Randy Arozarena beat Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. That. Can’t. Happen.
But this isn’t just on the players. The front office has played a big role in constructing a boom-or-bust offense without the necessary pitching to back it up. Yes, Luis Severino and James Paxton missed most or all of 2020, but the manner in which the bullpen folded was embarrassing. That was supposed to be an area of strength to back the rotation. Not even close.
So, here we go. This is a long one, but it’s worth mentioning every last move the Yankees need to execute or at least consider. Some are obvious. Some will upset you. But no stone can be left unturned when this team enters the 2021 season.
7. Re-Sign DJ LeMahieu and Masahiro Tanaka; Give James Paxton Qualifying Offer
Let’s begin with the Yankees’ most obvious duties on the endless checklist.
We don’t really need to get too in depth here. DJ LeMahieu needs to be back or this offense can start digging its grave. Though he wasn’t exactly otherworldly in the postseason, especially against the Rays, he’s still the engine that kickstarts the bats. He’s out-played his two-year, $24 million deal and deserves a blank check for the next four seasons.
As for the pitching, the Yankees simply cannot let their veteran arms go. JA Happ is out, so with that money coming off the books, all of it can be used to bring back Tanaka and Paxton. Tanaka on a three-year deal seems fair. He’s still producing and is largely consistent, though his home run issues anger the fanbase each and every year.
Paxton is the Bombers’ only hope for a reliable left-handed starter too, and they can avoid a multi-year commitment here because of his 2020 injury woes that limited him to just a handful of starts. Give him the qualifying offer, which will be right in the range of what JA Happ was making these last couple of years. If he performs, it’s a tremendous investment. If he falters, they’re not tied down.
This gives you a rotation of Gerrit Cole, Tanaka, Paxton, Severino, Deivi Garcia for 2020. If one of them gets injured, you have Clarke Schmidt likely ready. The bullpen is still deep enough to take a game by itself, if need be. But the pitching market doesn’t inspire much confidence unless you want to splurge on Marcus Stroman or bring hot-headed Trevor Bauer into the world’s biggest spotlight. We vote no on those options.