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About the Off-Season: Making Room, But For Whom?

About the Off-Season: Making Room, But For Whom?

By Tim Kabel

November 20, 2023


On Friday, the Yankees traded Jake Bauers and non-tendered Albert Abreu, Lou Trivino and Anthony Misiewicz. That leaves them with four open spots on the 40-man roster. In addition, they could easily shift Jasson Dominguez, and potentially Luis Gil and Scott Effross to the 60-day IL, creating three more spaces. On top of that, there are a few players whose spots on the roster are tenuous at best. The names Matt Krook, Nick Ramirez, Greg Weissert, and Yoendrys Gomez leap to mind. In addition, you know the Yankees will not go into the season with six catchers on the roster. Furthermore, if anyone is traded, that will also open up spots. In other words, the Yankees have room.

Anyone who does not live alone knows the following. If you get rid of a piece of furniture in your house, a new piece will be coming fairly soon. When your favorite old recliner is put out on the curb, that means that a new chair, hopefully one you can sit in, will be arriving soon.

What the Yankees have done is prepare for the new furniture. They have set themselves up rather nicely. This is much better and easier than signing a free agent or making a trade and then having to figure out how to make room for them on the roster. They have flexibility. They have spots. They have ways to create more open spots and they have people on the roster who are, to put it kindly, expendable.

Now comes the fun part: picking out the new furniture.

I have read articles or heard news reports linking the Yankees to essentially everyone. They are rumored to be signing every single free agent and they are mentioned in virtually every trade suggestion. They are reportedly on the verge of acquiring every player in Major League Baseball. They are also linked to people who are not in Major League Baseball. I think I saw a piece the other day that suggested the Yankees will sign Ty Cobb.

We all know, or at least hope the Yankees will sign or trade for players this offseason. You will note that I used the plural form of that word. That's because one is not enough. Hal Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman have stated repeatedly that they plan to be aggressive and acquire players and that virtually every available player is an option. Whether they are true to their word or not, is another matter. Let's give them the benefit of the doubt, even if they haven't completely earned it.

As I noted above, the Yankees have been matched with essentially everybody who plays professional baseball this off-season. What they cannot do, or at least should not do, is sign a bunch of 30-year-old players who have put up decent but not spectacular numbers for other teams. They need players who can and will make a difference. They need players who can complement Aaron Judge, Gerrit Cole, and the rest of the team.

Hal Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman have vowed to upgrade the Yankees going into 2024. After the 2013 season, which was also frustrating for Yankees' fans, Hal and Brian went out and signed Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann, Masahiro Tanaka, Hideki Kuroda and Carlos Beltran. At the time, those players were considered to be among the best available. If they did it then, they can do it now.

What if the Yankees were to sign Cody Bellinger, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, and Cuban relief pitcher, Yariel Rodriguez. How about if they traded for Juan Soto?

The Yankees are somewhat unclear as to what direction they want to go regarding Gleyber Torres. If they keep him, they could use Oswald Peraza at third base. If they trade Torres, they could use Peraza at second base, and acquire a third baseman through trade or free agency.

We are not sure what the Yankees will do this off-season. I don't think they would have cleared roster space just to make things neat and tidy. There was clearly a purpose there. I think Hal and Brian recognize that they really do need to add players.

They also need to subtract players, particularly Giancarlo Stanton and to a lesser degree, DJ LeMahieu. I think that when they make their first move or two, we will be able to predict the direction they will be headed. If their first move is to sign a journeyman or trade for Manuel Margot of the Rays, that will not fill many Yankees' fans with confidence. If, however, they jump right in on Yamamoto when he is posted this week and snatch him up quickly, that would be something else. The same could be said of signing Bellinger or trading for Soto.

However, just as was the case ten years ago, one move will not be enough. As it turned out, in 2013, five moves were not enough. Yet hindsight is 20/20. At least they made moves. The 2023 Yankees need to do the same thing. In many ways, this is the most enjoyable time of the year.

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