The New York Yankees need to retain Aaron Judge and upgrade other areas of the roster. But it’s not that easy. It never is. Every offseason, general manager Brian Cashman is tasked with making changes/additions, which hold far too much importance for a team that should have endless financial resources to avoid that reality on an annual basis. These changes often don’t move the needle or get the team over the postseason hump.
This time around, they stand to lose their best player. It’s a very real possibility, with a number of other teams positioned to offer more money than New York. They’re stuck with a number of contracts that are weighing them down and will have difficulty getting rid of.
So what if this offseason is an unmitigated disaster? To defend Cashman, that rarely ever happens. He usually does just enough to keep the Bronx from going up in flames.
But another disappointing playoff exit might have free agents thinking differently. We’ve already seen in recent years that players don’t necessarily want to come here; they just use the Yankees as a negotiating tool to make more money. And if they do come here, it’s because the Yankees offered far and away the most money (i.e. Gerrit Cole).
This isn’t the same as last offseason. The Yankees at least had Nestor Cortes, Jonathan Loaisiga, Clay Holmes, a healthy DJ LeMahieu, and a number of departures to look forward to. Then what happened? Cortes had a great year; Loaisiga regressed in the first half, Holmes was disastrous in the second half; DJ wasn’t healthy again; and the departures clearly didn’t make that much of a difference.
Yankees worst-case scenario Opening Day lineup for 2023
Now, the Yankees face a real danger of being stuck with players who are not good and being unable to lure key free agents. And if that happens … we’re looking at this:
- 1B DJ LeMahieu
- 2B Gleyber Torres
- DH Giancarlo Stanton
- LF Aaron Hicks
- 3B Josh Donaldson
- CF Harrison Bader
- RF Oswaldo Cabrera
- SS Isiah Kiner-Falefa
- C Jose Trevino
At this point, they’re stuck with the contracts of DJLM, Donaldson and Hicks. Who’s taking them without the Yankees making a massive concession (something they will never do)? Then there’s the question of Gleyber Torres being traded. Cashman isn’t going to do it if he’s not getting proper value in return, and it’s hard to see Torres netting exactly what the Yankees seek, especially if Cash couldn’t do it at the trade deadline.
Bader and Trevino are likely the only two positives, but, then again, Trevino’s end of the year was dreadful on the offensive end. Is the framing really worth the nosedive on offense?
Then there are the two elephants in the room: Judge and IKF. If Judge leaves, can’t you just see Cabrera taking over in right for the sake of the team saving money? They’re already at a guaranteed ~$200 million in payroll for the 2023 season, assuming they tender everyone a contract, Rizzo opts out (he will) and Luis Severino’s $15 million option is picked up.
As for shortstop, will the Yankees actually start Oswald Peraza? Or will they keep playing the IKF, who they believe is one of the best defensive shortstops in the sport per whatever incorrect metrics they’re analyzing? You know Anthony Volpe won’t be on the Opening Day roster, but how easy is it to see the Yankees sour a bit on Peraza if he has a poor spring training? You can hear Cashman now: “We feel he needs a little bit more development and IKF gives us a chance to win right now.”
We apologize for bringing this to your attention, but if the Yankees lose Judge and with a largely lackluster FA class on the horizon outside of the shortstop market (one Cashman reportedly said the team will not be involved in), what significant upgrades can you possibly envision if things don’t go their way?