It wasn’t too long ago general manager Brian Cashman was playing chess against owner Hal Steinbrenner and the rest of the New York Yankees organization in order to figure out the perfect way to upgrade this roster in a cost-effec … no, wait … CHEAP manner after financial restrictions were implemented.
Headaches ensued. DJ LeMahieu’s contract agreement took way too long. The team was mum about a reunion with Masahiro Tanaka and then just … let him go.
The offseason additions consisted of Jameson Taillon, Lucas Luetge, Darren O’Day, Justin Wilson, Adam Warren, Socrates Brito … and the “big fish” in Corey Kluber.
To be frank, the team that fell one game short of the ALCS needed more than that even though they technically did get “better.” It just wasn’t enough. And we learned that the hard way having to sit through over six months and 163 games to get that message stuffed down our throat.
In the end, on top of lacking the general fortitude to defeat any of their immediate rivals in convincing fashion throughout the year, the Yankees made some offseason decisions that truly look insane right about now.
Grounds for termination, in fact. But how can the guy who controls the finances fire the guy he forced to make these decisions? That’s the million-dollar question, but the Yankees wouldn’t even pay $100 to find out the answer.
These three offseason moves meant to help the 2021 Yankees now look deranged.
3. Passing on Marcus Semien
If the Yankees’ plan all along was to use nearly every infielder out of position, then why wouldn’t they take it to the extreme and add an MVP-caliber option when they had the chance?
Cashman all but officially echoed that the organization didn’t believe in Gleyber Torres as the team’s long-term shortstop, and that became official in late September when he was moved back to second base. Prior to that, DJ LeMahieu had been playing a combination of first, second and third. Gio Urshela saw some time at short, and then got even more time there during the second half of the season. Rougned Odor was playing a bunch of third base despite his primary position being second.
Why didn’t they just sign Marcus Semien, who instead went to their rivals on a one-year, $18 million contract? That’s not cheap, but it’s also not a crippling financial commitment and Semien is able to play both middle infield positions effectively. Put him at second, move DJ to third, dangle Gio Urshela in trade talks? Move DJ to first, keep Gio, dangle Luke Voit in trade talks? They did that anyway before the deadline and he’ll probably be moved in the offseason! Not selling high on either of those guys really feels like the miss of the decade.
This entire infield was misaligned with defensive liabilities at shortstop and first base … and then later first base, shortstop and third base before they finally figured things out with 19 days to go in the season.
What’d Semien do? Broke the MLB record for homers hit by a second baseman and slashed .265/.334/.538 with 115 runs scored, 45 homers, 102 RBI and 15 stolen bases. He was also good for a positive 1.7 dWAR. And he was loved by his teammates. The Yankees needed more of those guys. Didn’t get any.