For years there has been a growing cry from Yankee blogs and fans alike for the team to get younger and start getting more from their farm system. The term "rebuild" is seldom used in Yankeeland. The front office openly declares every year that they plan on contending for titles, whether that goal is a realistic one or not, and they have stubbornly refused to be sellers at previous trade deadlines when doing so could have helped stimulate roster turnover and make the team younger. This offseason has been a major sign that the Yankees are truly committed to following through on the goal of getting younger and better prepared for the future and creating opportunities for some of their prospects. No huge deals have been given out in terms of money or years, they have steered clear of the top tier starting pitching targets, and there has been a noticeable focus on sacrificing a bit for the present to build for the future. Look at the lists of players who have shipped out of and into the Yankee locker room over the past 3 months:
Key Players Lost: Derek Jeter ( age 40), Hiroki Kuroda (39), Brandon McCarthy (31), Martin Prado (31), Shawn Kelley (30), David Robertson (29), Francisco Cervelli (28), David Phelps (28), Shane Greene (26)
The asterisk in that second list is to denote that there are other key players included in this quasi-youth movement who are not new to the Yankee system. Chase Headley, 30 years old, was re-signed after being acquired at the trade deadline, as was outfielder Chris Young (31). 23-year-old John Ryan Murphy will step into Cervelli's vacated backup catcher role, and the trading away of guys like Phelps and Kelley leaves bullpen spots open for competition for younger guys like Jose Ramirez (24), Tyler Webb (24), Bryan Mitchell (24), Branden Pinder (25), Jacob Lindgren (21), and Nick Rumbelow (23). The Yankees even added a pair of 22-year-old pitching prospects to their farm system through their recent trades, something we don't usually say.
Add to that the current plan for young 20-somethings Refsnyder and Pirela to face off in ST competition for the starting second base job, the presence of 26-year-old Dellin Betances and 27-year-old Adam Warren in the bullpen, and the top 2 spots in the rotation being held down by 26-year-old Masahiro Tanaka and almost-26-year-old Michael Pineda, and you can see the new, younger foundation starting to be built. There are still some old, broken down bodies to deal with, but not as many as there have been and not for much longer. There are players in the Minors being groomed to take over at first base and in right field, and more sub-30 pitching on the FA and prospect horizons.
The only old(ish) players the Yankees have added this year are Garrett Jones (33) and Chris Capuano (36), and they are both on the books for only $5 mil apiece and only for the 2015 season. The jury is still out on whether the Yankees will be better or worse in 2015 than they've been the last 2 seasons, but they're definitely going to be younger and definitely going to be closer to executing and completing the rebuild they've waited so long to perform.