2017 Yankees: Where Are They Now?
By Chris O’Connor
January 26, 2021
The 2017 edition of the New York Yankees was perhaps the most fun Yankees team I have seen. Preseason expectations were low after the famous trade deadline selloff of 2016. Many pundits had suggested that it would be a multi-year rebuild. The 2017 team came out of the gates swinging, starting off 21-9 and finishing 91-71 to earn the first wild card spot. Having lost in Game 7 of the ALCS to the cheating Astros, they came as close as any team since the 2009 club to finally end the World Series drought. Four years later, I wanted to take a look at where many of the guys on that team are today.
There are several key players from that team who continue to produce for the team today. Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Aaron Hicks, and Brett Gardner have all played key roles for the club as position players over the last few years. Aside from Gardner (who is a free agent), all of them are expected to be key contributors to the club in 2021. A similar story comes on the pitching side. Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, Jordan Montgomery, Tommy Kanhle, Chad Green, and Aroldis Chapman all have continued to pitch well for the Yankees. Tanaka is currently a free agent, of course, as was Tommy Kanhle, who recently signed with the Dodgers.
Starlin Castro was the starting second baseman on that team. I always liked him as a player on the Yankees, but he was included in the Giancarlo Stanton trade after the season. He played with the Marlins for two years before signing with the Washington Nationals in 2020. He only missed 8 games across the 2018-2019 seasons before suffering through injuries in 2020 and he has been about a league-average player over the past three years. He’ll look to bounce back and continue to be dependable for the Nats in 2021.
Everyone remembers the starting shortstop: Didi Gregorius. Didi continued to produce for the team in 2018, but then underwent Tommy John Surgery and missed about half of 2019. He became a free agent after the year. When the Yankees made signing Gerrit Cole a priority and also wanted to hand Gleyber Torres the shortstop position, he signed with the Phillies and had a bounce-back 2020. He is currently a free agent and will look to cash in.
Chase Headley started at third and DH for the team. He was a dependable player for the team from 2014-2017, but after the 2017 season he was traded back to the Padres in a salary dump. He struggled through 27 games in 2018 before he was released. He has not played since.
Todd Frazier was a huge addition to the club in the trade deadline deal that year with the White Sox that brought in him, Kahnle, and David Robertson. I remember Frazier’s infectious energy that brought rituals like the thumbs down celebration. He became a free agent after the year and signed with the Mets where he has continued to be a dependable, league-average player. He had a short stint with the Rangers in 2020 but is now a free agent.
Matt Holliday was the primary DH over the first half of the year. He was great initially, but his play really fell off in the second half. After becoming a free agent following the year, he signed back with the Rockies. He struggled for them in a limited role in 2018 and subsequently retired.
Ronald Torreyes was an awesome utility guy to watch with the Yankees, particularly in 2017. He continued to serve in that role for the team in 2018, but left after the year and signed with the Twins. After playing in mostly the minors in 2019, he then signed with the Phillies and did the same in 2020. He signed a minor league deal again with the Phillies for 2021.
Other notable hooters from that club include Jacoby Ellsbury, Greg Bird, and Austin Romine. Ellsbury, of course, has struggled with injuries and has not played since 2017. His seven year deal expired after 2020, but he and the team are engaged in lawsuits regarding the terms of his contract. The Yankees famously had high hopes for Bird, but he just could never stay healthy and became a free agent after 2019. He has signed minor league deals with the Rangers and Phillies since but did not play in the big leagues in 2020. His major league career is very much in question. Romine was always a solid backup catcher for the team and when he became a free agent after 2019, he signed with the Tigers. He struggled in a starting role in 2020, however, and just signed with the Cubs to be their backup in 2021.
On the pitching side, CC Sabathia needs no introduction. He was a great clubhouse presence and valuable mentor through 2018 and 2019. He gave it everything he had for the team before retiring after 2019.
Sonny Gray is one of the bigger disappointments in recent memory. After struggling immensely for the team in 2018 and was banished to the bullpen for long stretches. He was traded to the Reds after that season. Gray was just not a good fit in New York and has been terrific for the Reds in his two seasons there, finishing seventh in the Cy Young voting in 2019. He always had the stuff, which is why his tenure in New York was so disappointing.
Like Gray, Michael Pineda always had talent but struggled to put it together and find consistency with the Yankees. Pineda became a free agent after 2017 and signed with the Twins, though injuries continued to follow him. He missed all of 2018 before bouncing back in 2019, but during the year he was suspended 60 games for using PED’s. He re-signed with the Twins after the year and has been a decent, if not spectacular, starter for them.
Dellin Betances was such an underrated reliever for the team from 2014-2018. He was unbelievable, and it is a shame that his last year with the team (2019) was decimated by injuries. He signed with the Mets after 2019 and really struggled in 2020. He will look to bounce back for them in 2021.
David Robertson continued to pitch well for the team in 2018 before signing a big contract with the Phillies. He struggled in 2019 with the Phillies before undergoing Tommy John Surgery, missing much of 2019 and all of 2020. He is currently a free agent and seems determined to pitch in 2021.
Other notables include Giovanny Gallegos, Chasen Shreve, and Tyler Clippard. Gallegos and Shreve were traded for Luke Voit at the 2018 trade deadline. Gallegos has been great for the Cardinals in his two and a half years there and will pitch for them again in 2021. Shreve struggled with injuries with the Cardinals in 2019 but bounced back after signing with the Mets in 2020, pitching to a 3.96 ERA over 25 innings. Though they have both pitched well since leaving the Yankees, I would say that trade worked out pretty well for both sides. Clippard was sent to Chicago in the 2017 trade deadline deal with the White Sox. He has bounced around since then with Astros, Blue Jays, Twins and Indians, but has actually pitched really well. He has ERA’s of 3.67, 2.90, and 2.77 in 2018, 2019, and 2020. He is currently a free agent.