The truth of the matter is that the New York Yankees have witnessed far too many inexplicable regressions/player issues over the last two years in order to see their “plan” come into focus. There’s been a lot of bad luck. The COVID-shortened season was followed by a lockout, which has played a role in derailing the Yankees’ championship window (if it even still exists).
However, while the front office certainly gets some sort of a pass for such unforeseen circumstances, general manager Brian Cashman and Co. cannot be absolved for their inability to adapt and/or plan on the fly. That’s been the problem heading into 2021, and now 2022.
The past is the past, so we won’t delve into that, but it’s clear ownership has gotten in the way of the vision this offseason. Hal Steinbrenner likely didn’t want to spend a penny before a new CBA was approved and surely opted to stand in solidarity with his fellow owner buddies instead of being a trail blazer.
Cashman didn’t see this coming? He didn’t feel the need to at least strike on the trade market before the league shut down, which is expected to create a mad dash in every facet of the game once the stoppage is lifted?
As a result, speculation has run rampant, suggesting the Yankees won’t be in the bidding or won’t be landing the top available names. Whether it’s the hesitancy to add another $200-plus million contract, the need to “save” money for an Aaron Judge extension, or their desire to see their “plan” through with Anthony Volpe and/or Oswald Peraza, the Yankees are in some sort of limbo.
Some of the buzz that has come from those close to the team has us questioning how the Yankees think addressing this many needs in more of a reactive manner is going to help them achieve their potential.
Here’s what Joel Sherman of the New York Post wrote over the weekend:
"“For example, if the Yankees wanted to emphasize defense, it would probably not take a ton of prospect capital if they were willing to absorb most or all of the $6.25 million the Athletics owe shortstop Elvis Andrus in 2022 and the $18 million the Brewers owe Lorenzo Cain. The Yankees would have Gio Urshela and Torres to move to shortstop late if they needed to hit for Andrus (who in theory could be part of a bigger Olson trade). Cain would serve as a rotating part of the outfield, plus insurance for Hicks (Milwaukee has had interest in Voit previously).”"
"“If my gut is correct on all three [Freddie Freeman, Trevor Story and Carlos Correa], it means none will end up with the Yankees. So what then? I think the Yankees would further investigate a Matt Olson trade. Would they be willing to make The Martian, Jasson Dominguez, the centerpiece to a swap? Or Peraza? Or Austin Wells? The fallback is probably a two-year deal for Anthony Rizzo and then trying to spread money around to provide depth and insurance.”"
Now, this wouldn’t be an awful plan, but it sure is questionable at best. The Yankees realistically need to round out the roster with capable players. They don’t need a star center fielder, shortstop, first baseman and starting pitcher. They need reliable bodies to fill those roles. But not going after one single star doesn’t seem like the Yankee Way, which is why this feels like a misguided strategy.
Andrus is a tremendous defender, but he’s an unimpressive righty bat. Cain is entering his age-36 season, having played in 83 games over the past two seasons. Rizzo is the least desirable of the first baseman options at the moment, but he really wouldn’t be a bad Plan C.
But why is this questionable? Because it’s assuming the rest of the roster — Gleyber Torres, Aaron Hicks, DJ LeMahieu, Gary Sanchez, Joey Gallo, the starting rotation and bullpen — will get back on track and collectively won’t be the worst version of themselves. And there’s nothing to prove that won’t happen, unless you’re a believer in Torres being more comfortable at second base, Gallo being more situated heading into his first full year as a Yankee, Hicks returning to full strength, and LeMahieu bouncing back after a sports hernia injury hampered him for most of 2021.
None of the aforementioned additions are of the impact variety. They would merely be supporting cast members on an underachieving, oft-injured star-studded roster. And it just should’ve never gotten to this point. The Yankees feel like the only team out there that can’t fully operate unless every single puzzle piece is in its exact spot, and it looks like we’re trending it that direction once again if this plan is even a consideration.