Anyone who knows me knows a few things for certain. One of which is my hatred of celebrating or even seeing anything related to Christmas before Thanksgiving. This is the case so much so, that I have actually created a holiday, Thanksgiving Eve, that is a celebration ringing in Thanksgiving and protesting Christmas rearing it’s head earlier and earlier and earlier in the year. That being said, I’m going to do something that breaks my own moral code, I’m going to create a Christmas Wish List and instead of sending it to the North Pole and I’m mailing it straight to Yankee Stadium addressed to Santa Cashman.
My list consists of a combination of careful thought and strategy as well as unbridled video game fantasy. I’ve tried my best to put together a list of players to be acquired that are realistic, yet hopeful and tried to put together a roster that I think would reflect a team that the Boss would put on the field, while understanding that it’s a different Steinbrenner that is running the show.
This season has got to be the tipping point. The Yankees were ahead of schedule in 2017 and were in the shadow of the Red Sox for the entire 2018 season. It’s been 10 years since the Yankees have raised the World Series trophy and I think that the Yankees need to go all-in, or as all-in as the Yankees go these days. It’s time to win!
Without further adieu, here is my off-season wish list. May it go straight to the heart and mind of Hal Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman:
Starting pitching is the glaring hole in the ship that the Yankees need to solidify. Last year saw some brilliance, some deep disappointment, and some promise in the Yankee’s rotation, but it is widely viewed as the position that needs the most attention in the off-season. Here is my hopeful, wishful, potential 2019 Yankees starting rotation:
Corey Kluber-acquired via trade
Patrick Corbin-acquired via free agency
I’m completely aware that this is a very ambitious rotation, but I also see a real possibility that the Yankees could run into 2019 with these 5 horses. This scenario requires the Yankees going all-in on Corey Kluber. If the recent rumors are true and the Indians actually are in the market, I think they have to go full-force. In my scenario I’m giving up something like: Sheffield, Florial, Frazier, Abreu and German. I’ve also thought that this could be a good spot to maybe throw in Sonny Gray, but by no means do I think he’s a main chip. Still, he could be a good sweetener to make the deal happen. I also realize that this deal will probably require Miguel Andujar, which I would do, but don’t want to have to do. Is it plausible that the Yankees could get this done by sending all of our top prospects to the Indians? I don’t know, but I do know that the time for prospects is over and we have to fly through this window of opportunity guns blazing.
I’m also signing Patrick Corbin to a 5 year 20-25mm a year deal. I think that’s plenty high enough, maybe even generous for a player who is entering the prime of his career (hopefully) but has yet to develop a true track record like some other free agent targets. This scenario is also taking into account that Corbin wants to come to the Yankees and will take this deal, even though he may be able to go after a little bit more money and years somewhere else.
I’m also bringing back CC on a one-year 5-7mm deal. I think that CC wants to pitch one more year, but I don’t think he wants to go anywhere other than New York. I think the Yankees want him back, but don’t want to pay for a player who might break down half-way through the season. CC had a great year, but he clearly wore down towards the end of the year. Maybe he can go strong for the first half of the year, then the Yanks can get Montgomery back into the picture, give CC a month or two off, and bring him back for the end of the year?
In my scenario I am choosing to bring back CC instead of Happ. I fully realize that Happ pitched incredible for the Yankees down the stretch, but my gut says that was an outlier. I think he would be dependable and good, but not great. If I’m bringing back an average left handed vet, I would rather bring back a guy who is the heart of the team. After hearing CC talk on R2C2 about how he defended Romine against the Rays, how could you not be fired up and want that guy back?
The Yankees have all of the talent in the world. They were actually more talented than the Red Sox. What the Yankees lack is experience, savvy and heart and if I’m the decision maker, I’m not letting the most experienced, savvy and passionate player on our team walk out the door at the possibility of replacing him with a slightly better veteran lefty who doesn’t get anyone’s blood pumping.
If the Yankees go into the 2019 season with this rotation, I think they have the best rotation in baseball. The one thing they’ve been missing is consistency and a bonafide ace. I still believe 100% that Luis Severino can be that guy and that he can return to his first half 2018 form. But I also think it has been a long-time since they’ve had a guy who is a proven top-tier, work horse, ace. Kluber would absolutely bring that. Corbin would bring a strong number 2 option from the left-side that would be a powerful counter balance to the righties. Tanaka does what Tanaka does and pitches big in big time situations and CC gives you heart and guts and 5 innings of good ball every 5 days.
Robertson-acquired via free agency
Andrew Miller-acquired via free agency
Yes I’m keeping Sonny Gray! I’ve thought about it long and hard. While I think the knee jerk reaction thing to do is to say that I hope he never pitches in pinstripes again, I think there is still value there. Do I think he will ever be the number 2 guy that we thought he was going to be when we traded for him? No. Do I think that as soon as the Yankees trade him to a small market team he will return to form? Yes. In my wish list, Sonny Gray is not in the rotation and I’m not asking him to be. But I do still think he adds a lot of value to this team in the form of a long arm out of the bullpen and as someone who can make the occasional spot-start to give the big man some rest and give everyone an extra day. The bottom line is that if you trade Sonny Gray, he will not bring anything back worth value, his stock has dropped too low. But when I think about it, would rather have Sonny Gray, AJ Cole, Luis Cessa, Domingo German or someone else of the likes be my long relief/spot starter guy? Of that list, I’d rather have Gray. He still had a winning record somehow and his road ERA was in the low 3.00’s. New York loves a redemption story and I could really see Sonny Gray coming out of the bullpen throwing only 4-seam fastballs and his filthy curve for an inning or two at a time and being very effective.
I am also bringing back David Robertson on a 2 year 20mm deal with a team option for a third year. I love Robertson. He is one of the only few Yankees left who was on the ‘09 World Series team. He pitches with heart and he pitches with guts and I am a sentimental person. Robertson is a Yankee and they need him in the clubhouse and coming out of the bullpen in big spots. I’m choosing Robertson over a guy like Ottaviano because of the intangibles. Robertson is a real Yankee and they need all the real Yankees we can get. He also threw me a baseball left handed in batting practice for my two year old baby girl, so I like the guy.
I am also bringing back Andrew Miller on the same deal. With the injuries, I think his stock has dropped low enough to where he won’t command closer money, like I think Britton will get. But when healthy, I MIller is the nastiest lefty reliever in the game. I love the way he pitches and I loved him in pinstripes. The morning I woke up and got the notification that Miller had been traded, I yelled out loud, punched my bed and woke up my wife. Miller is a class act who handles the bright lights well. I’m willing to take a bit of a faith leap on a guy I know can be one of the nastiest in baseball, despite his recent injuries.
Holder has been the topic of trade discussion. I think his stock is high, but I can’t see a team giving away a ton for him to be their closer or even set-up guy. I don’t think the haul would be worth it for what we saw out of him last year.
Side Note-I’m finishing this article in the evening after I wrote the majority of it during the day. This is after several news stories from the GM meetings saying that Brian Cashman would like to see back the familiar lefties of both CC and JA Happ. That’s fine. I think for the most part that Cashman keeps his cards close and I don’t know that I put much stock in anything they are putting out there that may be tipping their hand in either direction. I’d welcome back Happ with open arms in a heartbeat. But I still stand with choosing CC over Happ and with signing Corbin and going all-in on the trade for Kluber.
Yes I’m an emotional baseball fan. Yes I’m a homer. Yes I think there is more to baseball than the numbers and the analytics. You can’t measure heart and hustle and grit and synergy and how someone reacts under the bright lights of the stadium on the biggest stage in sports. In my first off-season wish list to Santa Cashman, this is what my heart desires.