LADY AT THE BAT: NY Yankees: Framework And Hunches For 2018

Thursday, October 26, 2017

NY Yankees: Framework And Hunches For 2018

As the Yankees season came to a screeching halt in Game 7 of the ALCS last Saturday, thoughts certainly steered away from the World Series to the Yankees plans for 2018. Regardless of what the many naysayers have said, this was a fun filled year, and the Yankees are loading up with great young ballplayers, like Judge, Sanchez, Gregorius, Bird, Severino and Green, with more on the way.

So what do the Yankees need to be thinking about, now that the season and post season are over for them? I'd love to be a fly on the wall at the first meeting of Yankees brass concerning the near and long term future of the franchise. I can only guess what would be on the agenda, but here is my suggestion of a framework for these discussions.

Yankees Off Season Framework For 2018

Update- Since the Yankees have decided to not bring Joe Girardi back for the 2018 season, hiring a new manager will be the top priority, before considering the following:

1. Win the whole (bleeping) thing 
Remember the movie Major League? Catcher Jake Taylor, played by Tom Berenger, had this exchange with a teammate at the end of a clubhouse meeting, where it was revealed the Indians owner  might release all it's players and move the team to Miami (It should be noted the movie was released prior to the debut of the Marlins franchise):

Jake Taylor: Well then I guess there's only one thing left to do. 
Roger Dorn: What's that?
Jake Taylor: Win the whole f****** thing.

The Yankees, who came within one game of the 2017 World Series. now have that mandate. The rebuilding is over and the Yankees will be expected to win in 2018. Simple as that. Everything they do will be with thoughts of winning the championship in mind. Period.

2. The "Aroldis Rules"
 No, we're not revisiting the "Joba Rules," as this is something entirely different. Aroldis Chapman signed for a long term deal a year ago for lots of money. That signing clearly indicated there would be no turning back, and the Yankees would be "open for business" sooner or later, when it comes to adding those final pieces in building a championship. The Yankees took no interest in acquiring Chris Sale and Justin Verlander when they became available, but you just knew it was only a matter of time following the Chapman contract that the Yankees would add other parts to their roster designed to put the team over the top. The building through young talent will continue, but when the Yankees see that final piece to the puzzle, expect them to jump into the fray.

3. Baby Bombers
But even with the "Aroldis Rules" expect the Yankees to stay young and bring more youth forward. The ghost of NFL football coach George Allen will not be present. Allen was known in the 70's as a stickler for having a team full of veteran players. George Steinbrenner did much the same with the Yankees of the 80's. Youth will be served and the club will be built around youth, but a veteran the likes of  a Sale or a Verlander will be on the table sometime in the near future.

4. Pitching is King
Never lose sight of this fact, Yankees. If they do, they lose. You've got to have quality starters and a bullpen to match. The Yankees of the  80's were destroyed on this point. It won't happen again. The major acquisition this winter or before the deadline next season will likely be a veteran stud pitcher.

5. Pondering the Decisions Ahead
Will Tanaka opt out? Do you resign CC?  What about Todd Frazier and what impact if he is re-signed, have on Chase Headley's future? We will know no later than three days after the end of the World Series if Tanaka has opted out. Remember, pitching is king, and a Tanaka opt out might lead to a new contract for CC, but it could also lead to a blockbuster trade. For whom? I have no idea. Brian Cashman seems to do his best stuff undercover with an unexpected name emerging. A veteran player not carrying a no trade clause could be dealt. The names Gardner, Castro and Headley fit this category.

So here are a few of my hunches (Why not?):

1. The Yankees will add the following minor leaguers to the 40 man roster to keep them away from the rule five Draft-

Thario Estrada INF
Domingo Acevedo RHP
Nestor Cortes LHP
Billy McKinney OF/1B
Albert Abreu RHP

FYI: Gleyber Torres will not be added since he is not yet eligible for the Rule 5 draft.

2. If Masahiro Tanaka opts out the Yankees will be more likely to re-sign CC Sabathia. I say Tanaka does not opt out and the Yankees offer CC a one year deal with incentives as part of the package. Yes, I might be going out on a limb with this one.

3. Yanks will sign Todd Frazier to a one year deal and will shop 1B/3B Chase Headley aggressively.

4. Goners: Matt Holliday and Jamie Garcia (not going out on a limb on this one).

5. Girardi gets a three year contract and Cashman is signed as well.

6. Yanks will consider offers for Starlin Castro by mid season to make room for Gleyber Torres.

7. Yanks will attempt to work a deal for Jacoby Ellsbury but will be unsuccessful.

8. Opening day rotation will include Luis Severino and Jordan Montgomery, but Sonny Gray, though he may start the season in the  rotation, will be shopped this winter.

9. Dellin Betances will be on the block all winter and will eventually be dealt.
10. The Yankees will open the 2018 season with no regular designated hitter, but the outfield combination of Frazier, Gardner, Hicks, Judge and Ellsbury will provide the DH on most days. A great spring might bring 3B Miguel Andujar.

11. The Yankees will make a trade for an impact starting pitcher as early as this winter and as late as the trade deadline or waiver deadline.

12. Shohei Otani? I'm not ready to speculate on who specifically might come to the Yankees just yet. Suffice to say there will be options on the table. The plan to continue with the youth movement will be the primary M.O. for two basic reasons 1) The Yankees plan to be under the salary cap and 2) It is working. Adding a key veteran might also involve moving another veteran in another transaction to make room for all the talented young players. 

But what do I know?

So in reality, it's "who knows?" What we should know for certain, the  Yankees will be expected to put together a championship caliber team for 2018. given how close they came in 2017.

So let's be clear on one thing. The mandate from the Steinbrenners on down, from this day forward, will be the "one thing left to do" as Jake Taylor so eloquently phrased it. (You may wish to substitute your own wording.)

"Win the whole (bleeping) thing!!"

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