Nobody would necessarily be "surprised" if the New York Yankees decided to fire manager Aaron Boone after the 2023 season. He has one year left on his contract and it would be yet another easy way for those responsible for building this terrible roster to scapegoat somebody else without holding themselves accountable (although it now seems like Dillon Lawson was actually bad).
But firing Boone come November would be in line with the many uncharacteristic decisions the Yankees have made this season. Lawson was the first in-season coaching dismissal under Brian Cashman since he took over in 1998. The team released Aaron Hicks, who had about $30 million remaining on his contract. Harrison Bader was placed on waivers and shipped to the Reds.
But none was perhaps more glaring than the release of Josh Donaldson, who had been taking batting practice with the team and was believed to be nearing a return from his calf injury. Shortly before the release, Boone said Donaldson was expected to go on a rehab assignment and make his way back to the active roster.
There was always a reason he was placed on the 60-day IL, though, wasn't there? Donaldson was never a fit with this team. His defense was good, but he even managed to lapse on that side of the ball at the absolute worst times. His offense was atrocious. He was brought in to give this team some edge, but he managed to throw that out the window when he went too far with Tim Anderson.
Ever since May of last year, Donaldson's been useless. He should've been tossed off the roster before 2023 began, but the Yankees were insistent on a bounce-back. It never came. They decided to call up their top prospects when rosters expanded, which left no room for him in New York.
Either way, his release marks yet another warning sign bigger changes could be coming in the offseason, if we're to believe Yankees insider Bob Klapisch.
Yankees insider suggests Josh Donaldson release may hint at Aaron Boone job security
"The second part of this saga plays into a broader narrative that’ll play out this winter.- Bob Klapisch, NJ.com
And that’s where manager Aaron Boone comes in. I heard weeks ago the manager would be in trouble if the Yankees were to finish in last place. That door, I’m told, is still 'wide open.'
But just the other day, SNY’s Andy Martino reported that Boone is safe. He has Cashman’s blessing. The only way Boone would be fired is if Steinbrenner pulled rank on his GM.
And since that’s never happened, logic follows that Boone will back in 2024.
But that would only make sense in a different era – say, 2017, when Cashman had full autonomy. He fired Joe Girardi after the Yankees made it to Game 7 of the AL Championship Series. With his contract up for renewal, 10 straight years without a losing record and finishing just a game shy of the World Series, Girardi assumed a new deal was a slam dunk."
Klapisch is operating under the assumption Cashman will no longer have full autonomy, which leaves Boone unprotected. The belief is Steinbrenner's discontent with what's happened this year will lead to changes, and since Cashman and Boone haven't reached a World Series, it's possible Steinbrenner, assuming Cashman is safe (he likely is), will influence the next most impactful change down in the dugout.
Klapisch says Cashman's power will "no longer be unchecked" and that Brian Sabean and Omar Minaya will have "greater input in the coming months." If Boone has been Cashman's "guy," then it's very possible this decision could be out of his hands.
Then again, we're not exactly sold on this flow chart of cause and effect. Boone's not bringing the Yankees to new heights, but he's also not dragging them down. It's not his problem Cashman didn't roster enough lefties. It's not his problem Cashman prioritized redundant/oft-injured players. It's not his problem regressions kicked in three years too early.
For as much as fans love to criticize Steinbrenner, the man definitely isn't that blind to what's going on (no matter how you choose to interpret him being "confused" as to why fans were upset in June). If he's going to make sweeping changes, Boone probably won't be his sole target. At this point, the groans have been far too loud for that to appease the average fan.
Completely revamping Cashman's cabinet would be where he needs to start. Then, if nothing changes in 2024, Boone can take his stick and bandana and head out of town when his contract expires -- just the way the Yankees like to do it.