Twelve Assumptions at this Point in Time
Twelve Assumptions at this Point in Time
by Cary Greene
October 27, 2021
Should MLB’s initial CBA become the framework for a labor agreement between the Owners and the Player’s Union, and should the Luxury Tax threshold proposal gain approval, we would see the Tax Threshold drop from last year’s $230 million to $180 million – then I highly doubt that Hal Steinbrenner is going to spend the amount of money it would take to allow the Yankees to be a threat to Tampa Bay in the AL East and become a legitimate World Series contender. The proposed tiered penalties for exceeding the tax stiffen quite a bit, with the first tax threshold increasing from 20 percent to 25 percent. Therefore, it’s very likely that we may be looking at significant budgetary restraints being enforced but of course, a lot remains to be seen. With as many glaring needs as the Yankees have, that’s not going to be enough to field a World Series team, is it?
I don’t believe the Yankees should trade Aaron Judge and I never was on board with the notion. He’s the face of the franchise. He’s carried the team this season. He needs to be extended before it’s too late. That’s going to eat payroll, my friends. If you want to see Judge extended, get ready for Steinbrenner’s luxury tax song and dance which will equate to significantly less spending.
I am 100% against extending Gary Sanchez. Let him play for a future contract next season. He’s slid a long way from where he was when he first came up. Higgy is the more valuable player at this point and will probably remain a solid defensive backup catcher. Going forward, the Yankees will need to focus even more on run suppression if they are to be successful next season. Sanchez still has some power but he’s not worth spending a big chunk of payroll on. His days as the Yankees everyday catcher are coming to an end. I’m not a Sanchez hater. But let’s be real. He’ll earn seven or eight million in arbitration this year, I’m guessing the Yankees would probably go that route rather than non-tender him. The Yankees also don’t have a ton of trade chips so the opportunity to acquire a legit, nearly ready catching prospect has passed. It’s now time to tread water and use Higgy a little more, if he is physically up to that task. Paying Sanchez in arbitration takes care of next year’s needs. Sanchez will play for a future contract next year and he may show everyone that he is taking his career seriously and there is a chance he will perform a bit better than he did this season. I think of Sanchez now as a stop gap and not a player to build around. Retaining Sanchez for one last season makes sense, but Gary is not the long term play.
I’m no longer torn over whether or not the Yankees should lock up a top shortstop long term. I don’t believe they will choose to afford it. I could be wrong on this. The Yankees may pay a huge price to bring in a Trevor Story or a Corey Seager. The team could also simply move Gio Urshela to shortstop and then play DJ LeMahieu at third base and Gleyber Torres at second base. I’m perfectly happy with Andrew Velasquez platooning with Tyler Wade as they back up Urshela. If the Yankees want extra defense, they could bring up Kyle Holder during the season as well, which would have the same net effect as signing Andrelton Simmons while not wasting payroll that could be spent on the team’s true need – pitching.
It clearly behooves the Yankees to craft a longer term plan that involves Anthony Volpe at shortstop. Oswald Peraza, to me, is a nice backup plan who could be ready around the All-Star break next year, but Volpe is my guy. Volpe won’t likely be in the Bronx until the 2023 season. If Volpe continues his current trajectory, he’ll be bumping Peraza or whichever lesser player the Yankees acquire to second base or into the trade conduit. Volpe’s ascension is entirely dependent on his continued development or course, but I would love to see a homegrown middle of the infield by 2023. My opinion may be in the minority here, but I believe the Yankees should allocate their resources to other areas of need for this coming offseason.
If you are in the camp of wanting Corey Seager or Trevor Story, know that both will require longer term deals, I don’t necessarily agree with you, but I don’t fault you for wanting a solid shortstop sooner than later. In Seager’s case, he may need to move to third base sooner than later also, so I don’t truly get spending big money on him at this time. My thought is that perhaps the Yankees could find a shorter term solution while they keep developing the jewels of their system. I’m not in favor of adding expensive players who become roster clogging roadblocks who will be in decline by the time the Perazas and Volpes of the world are ready to burst onto center stage. It’s time to abandon this perpetual annual strategy. It’s not producing championships. It’s time to get younger and start building around Volpe’s class of 2023.
What are the Yankees true priorities this offseason? Is centerfield at or near the top of the positional needs list? If so, Starling Marte is the clear cut best available free agent and he’s looking for at least 4 years and $50 million, likely more. Are you sure you want to go there while also trying to extend Judge and bolster the rotation, while still paying Hicks as well? Count me out on Marte. I think it’s time to give Estevan Florial and Greg Allen a shot at the position. I also think a trade may be in order here for a younger or nearly ready centerfielder.
Is the team’s main priority to add pitching? If so, you have a boatload of aging star pitchers to look at. Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw, and Max Scherzer head the list. We can already scratch Scherzer off as he won’t pitch in NY. Are Greinke or Kershaw really going to put the Yankees into the World Series and if so, at what cost? I’m sorry, but I’m not feelin’ it! Again, I feel it’s time to get younger here and start focusing on 2023. That means I’m in favor of bringing back Corey Kluber on a hit or miss deal, while rolling with Cole, Cortes, Montgomery, Taillon and Kluber. Clarke Schmidt or Luis Gil will also be in the mix. I think that’s enough starting pitching. Adding a free agent may be an intriguing story line this offseason. I’m fine however, if the Yankees stand pat here.
First Base is another issue. There will be those that clamor for the team to sign Freddy Freeman to a huge deal, others will want to extend Anthony Rizzo. I’m completely out on Freeman and Rizzo. I think the right play is to trade for a nearly ready first baseman and in the meantime, use Luke Voit with DJ LeMahieu sprinkled in. Voit is a serious health concern, trading him would produce a lackluster return. Keeping him and working towards the future is the right play here. Rizzo will command a pretty substantial contract.
Should the Yankees extend Joey Gallo to solidify the outfield for 2023 and beyond? He’s a terrific athlete who plays stupendous defense but he doesn’t exactly hit for average. Rumors abound that the Yankees may look to trade him this season. Personally, I think the Yankees should keep him and also focus on promoting Greg Allen or Estevan Florial permanently. Maybe a trade for a young outfielder could also help the team’s depth. A player I would love for the Yankees to acquire would be Andrew Benintendi, I think he’d be a great fit as a fourth outfielder.
Brett Gardner should not be brought back. The team needs to get younger in the outfield and there may be internal options who might pan out and give the team some added base stealing and better contact hitting. If not, then perhaps a trade for a young outfielder is in order.
The Yankee focus right now needs to be more 30,000 feet oriented. Like it or not, Aaron Boone is back. I am not thrilled to be candid. Boone can manage position players, he showed us this when he had players capable of baserunning and playing defense. He badly needs to be surrounded by strong baseball people. The Yankees are doing this. I’m oddly optimistic with this. Unfortunately, I’m terrified of Brain Cashman’s impact, yet it’s fairly clear – barring divine intervention – that he’ll be back. Therefore, I pray that he does a better job with the Rule 5 Draft this season. Watching Garrett Whitlock lead the Red Sox into their deep postseason run is really concerning. Cashman has also let a lot of very useful talent escape. Yes, he’s made some decent moves as well, but he’s let far too much sustainable talent escape. Imagine a Yankee Bullpen this past season that could have included Whitlock, Ottavino, Littell, Feyereisen and perhaps Robertson? Imagine a rotation featuring Eovaldi and perhaps Kaperlian? It’s high time to start getting the pitching puzzle figured out. Cashman has really blundered here.