The New York Yankees have exercised varying degrees of "running it back" since 2018. A majority of the offseasons since then did not feature notable roster overhauls or personnel decisions. Carlos Rodón's $162 million contract was probably the biggest "stunner" when talking about unexpected, exciting transactions.
Instead, the Yankees have blindsided fans in different ways. The Josh Donaldson trade. The JA Happ extension. The Aaron Hicks extension. The James Paxton trade. The Luis Severino extension. The Aroldis Chapman extension. The Rougned Odor trade. The Corey Kluber signing. Are you tapping out yet?
Meanwhile, if we look out west to the Yankees' NL counterpart in the Los Angeles Dodgers -- something that's so often referenced, but has lost meaning for seven years now -- we can easily learn that cutthroat decisions could benefit a team's overall picture.
Dating back four years, the Dodgers have made many tough moves. After they won the World Series in 2020, they wasted no time in parting ways with Joc Pederson and Kiké Hernández. Then, during the 2021 season, they traded for Trea Turner in what was a clear succession plan for Corey Seager, whom they let depart to Texas without much of a fight once the offseason arrived.
After the 2022 season, they did the unthinkable yet again, this time declining Justin Turner's team option and non-tendering Cody Bellinger. Turner is thriving with the Red Sox and Bellinger has rediscovered himself with the Cubs.
Dodgers' cutthroat decisions should teach Yankees valuable lesson
How are the Dodgers doing? They're a top-three team in baseball and have replaced the departed names with ease. James Outman, JD Martinez, Jason Heyward and David Peralta have all been key players, which has given the team runway to experiment with top prospect promotions.
The Yankees finally showed a semblance of that during the 2023 season. Some might call previous moves like the Jordan Montgomery trade, Gio Urshela sacrifice, Joe Girardi dismissal, Brett Gardner breakup, Luke Voit non-tender, etc. "cutthroat" ... but fans might argue they were the wrong kind of cutthroat, because clearly none of those moves necessarily worked out for the Yankees.
The problem with Brian Cashman is that he very rarely identifies the root of the problem, which leads to patchwork moves to buy time as the real wounds fester. His "cutthroat" decisions are more indirect and confusing rather than strategic and purposeful. Though releasing Donaldson, placing Harrison Bader on waivers, releasing Aaron Hicks, releasing Deivi Garcia, designating Willie Calhoun and Greg Allen for assignment, and demoting Ron Marinaccio were in some ways "harsh," they still weren't "enough" because of how the Yankees' poor season has largely remained on its unsuccessful course.
When you're last in your division and getting called out by opponent after opponent, it's evident something more drastic needs to happen in order to alter the status quo. The Yankees have been some version of a doormat since this "championship window" opened after their 2017 run.
The kids are up. The energy feels different for the better. This shouldn't be the end of the roster surgery, and if Cashman is really feeling the heat under his seat, he'll talk to Hal about a few more ruthless decisions this team needs to make (Giancarlo Stanton trade? Gleyber Torres trade? Kyle Higashioka departure? Clay Holmes trade?) in order to rid themselves of the 2020-2023 stench that's yet to dissipate.