What does the future hold for the New York Yankees? Will they “run it back” in 2022 and hope to get better? Will they be significantly worse after Aaron Judge departs? Will they break the bank by bringing Judge back and signing a ton of talent around him?
The possibilities really seem … limited. So, when talking about a “dream” lineup, what does that even look like? Does that include a high-profile shortstop while kicking the top prospects to the curb? Is it re-signing Judge and Andrew Benintendi while jettisoning other guys who are holding the team/payroll back?
We can’t get too ahead of ourselves. When looking for a best-case scenario, it’s realistic that we stay within the Yankees’ parameters. They’re probably not going over the $260 million luxury tax threshold. Sorry. They’re going to want to give their top prospects a chance, so maybe it’s time fans stop thinking about a top shortstop or second baseman entering the fold.
Honestly, “the dream” here is general manager Brian Cashman clearing wasteful players on the payroll so the team is able to pay Judge what he deserves and figure out ways to upgrade in order to not repeat 2020, 2021 and 2022.
That means that getting rid of Josh Donaldson ($21.75 million), Aaron Hicks ($10.79 million), Isiah Kiner-Falefa (~$6.5 million) and Gleyber Torres (~$10 million) simply needs to happen. That clears around $47 million, which would theoretically allow Judge’s $35-$40 million AAV to slide right in.
What’s the New York Yankees’ dream Opening Day lineup for 2023?
- LF Andrew Benintendi
- RF Aaron Judge
- 1B Anthony Rizzo
- DH Giancarlo Stanton
- 3B DJ LeMahieu
- CF Harrison Bader
- SS Oswald Peraza
- 2B Anthony Volpe
- C Jose Trevino
- SP Gerrit Cole
- BENCH Oswaldo Cabrera (UTIL)
- BENCH Kyle Higashioka (C)
- BENCH Matt Carpenter (3B/OF)
- BENCH Joc Pederson (OF)
The only free agent blockbuster upgrades available will be Trea Turner, Carlos Correa, Dansby Swanson, Xander Bogaerts and Brandon Nimmo. They’d absolutely change the dynamic of the lineup, but then there’s a big payroll jump (again, not happening) and waving the white flag on the prospects (also not viable for the long-term health of the franchise).
If Cashman can undo his Donaldson/Hicks mistakes and get a starter/couple relievers for Torres, it’ll be a job well done. Adding contact hitters such as Benintendi, Peraza and Volpe into the fold on a full-time basis will change the complexion of this lineup, and hopefully lead to a decrease in the high frequency of its painful dry spells. Having a bench of someone like Cabrera (who can play anywhere), as well as Carpenter and Pederson, who after lefty boppers (and can easily fill starter reps when needed), is miles better than a crew of Hicks, Marwin Gonzalez, Joey Gallo, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Miguel Andújar and Tim Locastro.
Yankees fans are conditioned to this team not making the move that propels them above the rest. It’s just what it is. But freeing up that money via trades (you might have to attach a top prospect or two to a couple of them) and being able to add another starter like Carlos Rodón and Chris Bassitt (in addition to a reliever or two) would make all the difference.
This team isn’t far off. It’s just fallen victim to poor supplementary moves or unforeseen regressions. Since this offseason doesn’t offer immediate fill-in expensive FA needs, Cashman needs to work a mini overhaul and make this the reality.