The Yankees want to be kings of the East again? Try this (relatively cheap!) offseason plan on for size.
The Tampa Bay Rays lost two of their three aces. The Toronto Blue Jays are probably a year away, unless the Yankees let them steal their MVP candidate. The Red Sox are trying to lose, and the Orioles aren’t, but likely will anyway.
So what are the Yankees waiting for? Take back the AL East!
Oh, right. They’re waiting for…well, everything. As is the rest of Major League Baseball, aside from the Chicago White Sox, New York Mets and San Diego Padres, even though the season “begins” in just over a month.
Oh, that whole thing. The 2021 season. Yes, yes, yes.
The Yankees have proven they won’t extend themselves this offseason, content to watch their competitors crumble around them. But seeing as nearly everyone who was available on Oct. 30 is still available, the Yanks should really think about employing this discount offseason plan, which would fill holes without breaking the bank.
The Yankees’ budget offseason plan for 2021…in mid-January:
- Bring DJ LeMahieu home.
- Re-sign Masahiro Tanaka, and supplement him with Corey Kluber.
- Sign Trevor Rosenthal.
- Sign lefty slugging infielder/outfielder Brad Miller.
Say it with me: It’s! Only! Money! And the Yankees don’t want you to know they have a lot of it, but they certainly have a lot of it.
In this hypothetical, the Yanks wouldn’t use any of their prospect capital prior to the season, and the reasons are twofold. This way, they’ll maintain flexibility until the trade deadline, which could see more activity than normal, based on the sheer number of teams scared to improve their roster prior to what’ll likely be another semi-pandemic year. They’ll also be able to save their assets for when there’s a true difference-maker on the market — we’d rather bank on Luis Castillo becoming available than put our stock in “saving” Joe Musgrove.
Whenever the Yankees have to save a pitcher from himself and harness his peripherals, it doesn’t go well.
Speaking of saving arms, though, Kluber is an easy connection to make for the Yanks — and many on Yankees Twitter seem strangely assured that he will, in fact, settle in New York on a bounce-back deal alongside his conditioning coach Eric Cressey and former Cleveland pitching reviver Matt Blake.
Tanaka’s return, which felt nearly out of the question when he walked off the mound for the final time in October, has seen its chances regenerate, even if the “Yankees or bust” rumors weren’t legitimate. In this stagnant marketplace, the Yanks could offer Tanaka a one-year deal that no one else would match (!), as no team appears prepared to offer more than a second year.
Replace Miller and Rosenthal with the utility bat and bullpen arms of your choice (Tommy La Stella?), but the offseason will be a relative success if the Yankees wrap up these two areas of need. A two-year deal for Rosenthal, along with Zack Britton’s picked-up option and a relative “breakout” from either Brooks Kriske or Nick Nelson would create a very good bullpen. This team also needs a change-of-pace lefty bat with power, and the versatile Miller would provide that. He drilled seven homers in 48 games in St. Louis last year — and we briefly a Yankee during their infield injury shuffle a few years back.
As for DJ? That part needs no explanation.
With every day that passes, his return becomes less likely. But though it’s not assured, it still seems probable New York comes out on top with a four-year deal worth between $80 and $92 million, potentially with a fifth-year option. Josh Donaldson Money is more likely to be matched than a five-year, $125 million banger.
Keep the MVP candidate, add around him (on a budget), and supplement the rotation with a bounce-back and a familiar face. Normally, this would be relatively stable, but underwhelming for a Yankees offseason.
In 2021? It’s likely enough to get back to being the king of the hill, top of the heap.