The Yankees continued to splurge in international free agency on top targets in 2022, something the Bombers have done a lot of dating back to signing Jasson Dominguez. The team once again spent a sizable portion of their international free agent budget on the top prospect, shortstop Roderick Arias.
If Yankee fans were to look back to the 2017 season when Aaron Judge broke out, that second-half rebuild that took place in 2016 — when they traded every aging star on the team — seemed to already be over. Gary Sanchez was becoming one of the best catchers in the league while Luis Severino was becoming the ace Yankee fans had been yearning for.
At that point, we all thought we’d have that 28th World Series ring by now, especially heading into the 2022 season.
But here we are. Injuries have derailed any potential playoff effort, our once-upon-a-time superstar SS/2B Gleyber Torres has taken giant steps backward since 2019, and pitching depth issues (along with injuries) are constant themes each year.
However, it’s important to recognize Brian Cashman and Yankees brass’ efforts to create future success, not only with the recent Arias and Dominguez signings, but with other lower-profile prospect investments internationally.
It is important to recognize that while highly-touted international prospects are extremely hit-or-miss (i.e., Rusney Castillo, Kei Igawa, Hideki Irabu), there are also players including Xander Boegaerts and Jose Abreu who are superstars — and Wander Franco, who seems to be headed down that path.
The Yankees may not win the World Series this year, and they probably won’t if they don’t sign a top-tier shortstop (Carlos Correa or Trevor Story), trade Luke Voit for bullpen or depth assistance and move Torres back to second base.
What made Joe Girardi a superb manager in the eyes of many Yankees fans was his ability to dictate the game with the bullpen – Girard mixed and matched, finding ways to make close games into wins. Aaron Boone, on the other hand, is lenient in his handling of bullpen arms and there were instances where he left pitchers in too long, turning many close games and sure Ws into horrifying Ls, as we experienced many a time this past season.
Gio Urshela will likely take a backseat in the event of a massive contract signing, which makes him one of the better infield insurance options in the league.
But below the pessimistic surface, the Yankees will have one of the best farm systems in the league next year with Anthony Volpe, Trey Sweeney, Dominguez, this Arias signing and projected signing of 2023 OF Brandon Mayea. Three of those moves are thanks to Cashman’s international plotting, which might be the final frontier where the Yankees really are able to flex their financial might.
That could all change if and when the International Draft is implemented, so there’s no better time than the present to stock the farm this way.
It’s easy for us Yankees fans to get impatient, especially with the dominance of the 20th century and the lack of winning years we’ve endured in the 21st.
Have no fear, though. Thanks to moves like Arias, the Evil Empire will return, and not just for a short time.