Yankees 2017-2018 offseason preview

As November approaches, the end of the Yankee season draws near as well, thus starting the 2018 free agency period. Although most Yankee fans are looking forward to the 2019 free agency, this winter is arguably more important, as there aren’t these can’t miss type of options out there like Bryce Harper or Manny Machado. Hal Steinbrenner has stated the team will be aggressive in free agency this year but don’t expect any 2009 like deals as the team is trying to get under the luxury tax threshold for the future. The Yankees do have some questions, and it will undoubtedly be an interesting winter for Yankee fans.
Photo Credit: Kathy Willens | AP

Starting Pitching Overview
First off is pitching. Luis Severino, Jordan Montgomery, Sonny Gray, and now Masahiro Tanka after he opted into the remaining three years of his contract are under total team control or in arbitration for 2018, so that 3/5 of the rotation right there. After that, the most prominent question is CC Sabathia. CC is a free agent, but with his recent success and veteran presence on the team, I would guess there is a good chance he comes back.

Possible options:
The Yankees will likely sign back CC Sabathia to a one-year contract to retire in New York, and hopefully, the lefty can at least get close to his 2017 form and be a great four or five starter for the team. The Yankees will also look for Chad Green to continue developing into a starter, so that will be a major storyline come spring training 2018.
Photo Credit: David J. Phillip | AP

Jordan Montgomery role is intriguing, the lefty had a phenomenal start to the season, but a slower second half. The Yankees could upgrade on him, even deciding to use a minor leaguer like Chance Adam to replace him, or they could use him as the fifth starter like he was this year. With this, it’s a smart bet the Yankees will add some pitching option to the rotation this offseason. Shan Otani is a wrench in all of this, the Yankees are apparently interested, but if they sign him, do they use him as a hitter, pitcher, or both? He can be a force at all of these positions, but certainly, his addition would add some excitement to the team.

Bullpen Overview
The bullpen will remain mostly intact as well, up for arbitration are Tommy Khanle, Adam Warren, Chasen Shreve, and of course Dellin Betances. Betances and Warren have the most uncertain future out of this group since there is a possibility the Yankees trade the talented reliever this offseason. Dellin will enter another year of arbitration, last year resulted in some oddly petty comments from top Yankee executive Randy Levine about the reliever, but with Dellin’s struggles this year, it may go a bit more smooth this time around.
Photo Credit: Getty Images

Possible options:
Unless the club trades Betances and Warren, the 2018 bullpen will look very much like this year bullpen, which is a good thing for the team. As for a possible Betances trade, it would be unwise to attempt to trade the righty when his hype is at an all-time low. It would be more prudent to wait for Dellin to raise his stock to receive the best value in return. Warren, on the other hand, his stock is just fine, despite his recent injury. An offseason trade for the middle reliever is a possibility as his stock most likely will not get much higher during the season than it is now.

Outfielder Overview
All five of the outfielders on the September roster will most likely return, most likely the starting outfield for 2018 will be Brett Gardner, Aaron Hicks, and Aaron Judge. The big questions will be the roles of Clint Frazier and Jacoby Ellsbury.
Photo Credit: Corey Sipkin

Possible Options:
It would be shocking if the Yankees signed or traded for another outfielder, but could move on from veteran Jacoby Ellsbury. A strong September for Ellsbury may make the team more willing to take on his albatross of a contract but still is a tough sell. The team would like to get Clint Frazier more time in the majors in 2018, so if they don’t move on from Ellsbury, he still may have to fight for his spot as a platoon with Hicks in spring training.

Middle Infield Overview
Middle infield is also set with Didi Gregorius under arbitration and Starlin Castro under contract, however, the rise of Gleyber Torres could threaten Castros spot at second if the young prospect doesn’t move to third base like initially planned in 2017. Catcher is also set with Gary Sanchez returning as starter and Austin Romine under arbitration.
Photo Credit: Cheryl Pursell | Pinstriped Prospects

Possible Options:
Unless the team moves Castro to third or trades him, the team is set at this position with Ronald Torreyes being the likely backup, but don’t rule out Gleyber Torres’ involvement.

Corner Infield Overview
First base is locked with Greg Bird resurgence, but with his injury history, the team would be smart to get a serviceable backup. Tyler Austin could be that, but he has his injury history, Garrett Cooper is another option, but a veteran option like Chase Headley, would to at least compete in spring training would be more reassuring.

 Third base, on the other hand, is a lot more open, Chase Headley will likely be returning, but who knows if he will be back to the starter again or a backup first baseman instead. Todd Frazier is a free agent, and the longtime Yankee fan would likely accept a contract to return, but with prospects like Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar waiting in the wings, the team may opt for their young talent instead.

Possible Options:
Most likely the team would like to see one of their young studs at third base with Headley being the impromptu backup at first and third base; this would probably be some combination of Torres and Andujar. Once again, this all changes if Castro moves to third.

Designated Hitter Overview
Lastly, the designated hitter position is wide open. The spot had a platoon style for the position, with no one gaining ground on the position. The 2017 opening day starter Matt Holliday, is a free agent and was ineffective the second half of the season, and besides being an excellent mentor for Judge, he has no real value for the team.

Possible Option:
This opening is where the Yankees could add one of many different players. JD Martinez has been recently rumored, who would feast on the Yankee Stadium right field porch. Shohei Otani again comes up as an option, an impressive swing and power would make it tough to Yankees to not use him as a DH if they sign him. A possible alternative is to DH him on most days, except when he pitches in an AL park or needs rest. It is something the MLB hasn’t seen in some time and balancing rest, injury risk, and production would be a difficult test for any team. If the Yankees don’t sign any of these players, the team could look in-house to fill their DH spots. With the logjam in the outfield and corner infield, the teams could use the likes of Clint Frazier, Chase Headley, and Jacoby Ellsbury to rotate DH, but the team would likely want a pure power hitter at the position.
Photo Credit: AP

 This could lead the team to look to their youth, the franchise recently has shown it wants to include their young prospects in this resurgence, so why not use Miguel Andujar at DH for 2018? The dominating right-hander went 3-4 with a walk and three RBIs in his debut, but his defensive struggles restricted him to any real time in the majors this year, and that’s what makes him a perfect fit for the DH position. By letting him work on his glove on the side while getting the most out of his bat would be the best of both worlds for Andujar's development.

Conclusion:
The Yankees are an imperfect team, they strikeout a lot and are inconsistent on the mound, but somehow they don’t have too many holes to fill. Credit Brian Cashman restocking the farm system in recent years, and that lets the Yankees can bring up their young guys if they want or go sign some veteran difference makers to fill their holes. The 2018 team may not look all that different than the 2017 final roster, but the development of their young prospects will likely dictate this.

The Bombers were a surprise contender this year, and an improbable playoff run has reinvigorated the fan base. Even though the estimated time for arrival for this team always seemed to be 2019, why not add a championship on the way? Cashman stated he didn’t want to sacrifice championships for a championship, but smart additions could give his team a chance of capturing lightning in a bottle again in 2018 and making another deep postseason run, then take your pick of free agents in 2019. The best teams build from within and then supplement that with outside addition to build a dynasty, or that’s the idea, and the Yankees could do that with smart moves during the next two winters.  

Article by: Maxx Hotton

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