Some Yankees fans look at the current roster (41-38, objectively underperforming, objectively better than many teams) and want to orchestrate a complete teardown, imploding the core from the inside out.
OK. Gotcha. Hear you loud and clear. So you want to fire Brian Cashman, but you also want him to begin an impossible task? Because we hate to remind you of this, but it doesn’t seem like Cash is going anywhere.
If you want to embrace disaster for three-to-four years on the off chance you end up with enough top picks to make it all worth it (cough cough, the Astros, who got Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa but whiffed on Mark Appel), then enjoy that difficult road without a guaranteed ending.
We think there’s a middle ground to be explored — or, at least, there definitely was this past offseason when the Yankees fumbled every 50/50 ball that came their way and ended up in the dust.
This isn’t a fanciful plan for the offseason that involves throwing $75 million at Trevor Bauer and being able to see the future by signing Carlos Rodon to a $1.5 million deal only to see him become an ace. Yes, that would’ve been awesome, but we would’ve called it a waste of money in February. We’re just trying to right the fairly clear wrongs the Yankees embraced this offseason on a similar (ok, slightly elevated) budget.
If we ran the team, we would’ve taken a few different chances and ended up conservatively five wins better. Print that.
This Yankees offseason plan would’ve actually made them good.
In this simulation, we pass on Brett Gardner’s deal, saving the Yankees $4 million. We still trade Adam Ottavino, clearing his salary, but we don’t do it to the f***ing Red Sox, who we’ve hilariously been underestimating since 2004. We happily go after Darren O’Day again, but pass on Justin Wilson (hindsight is literally 50/50 here). To be fair, we’ll also sign Corey Kluber, seeing as that deal seemed fun at the time (and we like no-no’s). If we’re trying to match salaries, that gives us $8 million additional to work with (four each for Wilson and Gardy).
Therefore, we’ll give the $10 million AAV the Mets gave Taijuan Walker to … Taijuan Walker! Come on down, join the rotation as our “sixth” starter, and fill a clearly valuable role very quickly. Walker has attacked the zone with a renewed confidence in his fastball, resulting in a 2.38 ERA and 82 Ks in 79.1 innings pitched.
The rotation needs a third horse in addition to Kluber and Walker, though, so we’ll make a trade. With the Pirates. No, not for that guy.
The Yankees, in our perfect offseason, bucked up for Joe Musgrove instead, using the same two headliners from the Jameson Taillon trade in Roansy Contreras and Miguel Yajure while also adding a peaking Clint Frazier to the deal. Who doesn’t want Gold Glove Finalist Clint Frazier, especially as a bonafide big-league piece in a trade with other high-upside talent?
Say what you will, but if the Yankees had passed on two cooked options and made the superior Pirates trade, they’d have a thick enough rotation to survive Kluber’s injury and have Michael King in the bullpen eating the middle innings.
So Clint’s gone, though. Outfield depth is lacking. Who fills in? OK, fine, sorry. We passed the luxury tax threshold, but we got two roving outfielders.
Even without predicting Schwarber’s Barry Bonds-ian success this month, anyone could’ve seen a match made in Heaven between him and the short porch. Imagine if his lasers had even less distance to cover? He might be licking 35 homers at the end of June. Sure, the left field defense would be lacking, but folks … have you seen what the Yankees actually went with? Mercy.
To fill out the outfield depth, and since we already balanced things out with a lefty in Schwarber, we’re going to go ahead and pay $5 million for Kevin Pillar, a true gamer who would’ve changed this team’s attitude as well as smacked eight homers while contributing above-average defense and center field time in Aaron Hicks’ absence. If you can’t dare to imagine a world where the Yankees surpass the tax, remove Walker from the equation, keep the outfielders, and fudge the numbers a bit (Would Pillar take a slight discount with an escalating Year 2? Wilson did.).
See? It’s not impossible. The Yankees easily could’ve been “back” this year by supplementing their core, not erasing it. And we didn’t even try to shove Michael Brantley in there!
Michael Brantley………….yeah, fine, add him too. Add everyone. Sell your yacht, Hal!