Be honest with yourself. A bad Yankees offseason isn't what ESPN is predicting, per se. A bad Yankees offseason is what ESPN wants. The Worldwide Leader in Sports once had a Sunday Night Baseball booth at Fenway Park for Yankees-Red Sox consisting of Dan Shulman, Nomar Garciaparra and Curt Schilling. They've, uh, made their pick.
Ahead of Feast Week, ESPN Insider writer David Schoenfield predictably put together an offseason wishlist where everyone eats except the Yankees.
The article, somewhere between a prediction and a dream exercise, is sold as "How a Trade and Free Agent Signing Can Change Every MLB Team." Simple enough. And yet ... their paragraph on the Yankees contains two signings and zero trades. They sent Juan Soto to the Seattle Mariners in this exercise (sans-extension), gave Yoshinobu Yamamoto to the Mets, and blew the ink dry on Shohei Ohtani's long-rumored Dodgers contract.
But don't fret, Yankees fans! That leaves you with Jung-hoo Lee (the assumed consolation prize for Cody Bellinger) and Shōta Imanaga, the Japanese left-hander who could be quite competent, but looks more like a No. 5 starter than a game-changer. Think "final season Hiroki Kuroda" instead of "prime Masahiro Tanaka." And, to this, we say ... yuck?
Yankees Offseason Predictions: ESPN begs fans to wait for Juan Soto
Now, in this fantasy, Schoenfield cautions the Yankees to wait until 2024-25 to throw the bag at Soto, who reaches free agency in his estimation. And that's all well and good. The worst thing the 2024 Yankees can do is sign too many free agents they prevent themselves from keeping Soto long-term. But the best thing they can do is trade for Juan Soto, so ... yeah.
Last week, Jeff Passan theorized that both the Mariners and Cubs could match the Yankees' proposed package for Soto due to their stockpiles of young pitching. He countered that idea, though, by saying that neither team would likely be as willing to part with their top-tier talent as the Yankees might be.
Hopefully, reality unfolds the way Passan envisioned it might and not the way Schoenfield is crossing his fingers and dreaming about as the turkey gets carved. Everything laid out above is realistic, in its own way, and there's something to be said about waiting for bigger fish like Soto and Corbin Burnes next year. But if the Yankees emerge with a contact hitter and a depth starter, they won't be making the postseason. That's realistic, too.