By Tim Kabel
December 10, 2022
About the Off-Season: What’s Next?
When my kids were younger, and we went to amusement parks, they would wait on line excitedly chattering about the ride they were going to take. After they finished, they would breathlessly describe how amazing it was for several minutes. Then, they would move on to the next ride. This would go on all day until they reached their maximum capacity for fun. No matter how much they enjoyed one ride, they always wanted to try another. Sometimes, they would go back to one of the earlier rides and go on it again, and again. The point was, they didn't stop. That is the approach Yankees’ fans, and apparently Aaron Judge, want the team to take this off-season.
The feeling and belief among fans and pundits are the Yankees are not finished. They have other moves they can make. Essentially, they have regained any ground they may have lost. Aaron Judge and Anthony Rizzo did not go to other teams. The Yankees are pretty close to being the team they were last year that won 99 games. That is not good enough. They need to improve. It would make no sense to sign Judge to such a huge contract, if Hal Steinbrenner was not committed to winning. In addition, Judge apparently wanted assurances that management would work to improve the team.
We have been hearing for several days that the Yankees are targeting Carlos Rodon. He would be a major upgrade to the pitching staff and combined with Gerrit Cole, Nestor Cortes, Luis Severino, and Frankie Montas, would make a formidable rotation. It is certainly not a done deal but, there appears to be mutual interest between Rodon and the Yankees. If they don't sign him, they could make another move, either through a trade or a signing. Kodai Senga from Japan remains a possibility. I am fairly certain the Yankees will acquire another top-notch starting pitcher.
They are also targeting a leftfielder, and Andrew Benintendi could be the target. But could they be planning something else?
ESPN’s Buster Olney suggested the Yankees may go after Carlos Correa. The question is how committed is Hal Steinbrenner to building a winner? Last year, the Yankees passed on all the top free agent shortstops. They were committed to developing their young shortstop prospects, Oswald Peraza, and Anthony Volpe. Oswaldo Cabrera eventually forced himself into the mix, playing all over the field. It would be a bit peculiar if the Yankee suddenly shifted gears and went after Carlos Correa. It is possible. It is also possible they may sign him but, not to play shortstop. There have been suggestions that he may eventually shift to third base. That could happen now. Perhaps the Yankees believe that Carlos Correa at third base and Oswaldo Cabrera in leftfield would be a better combination than Andrew Benintendi in leftfield and Cabrera at third base.
Both of those scenarios require the removal of Josh Donaldson from the team. Very few tears would be shed over that move. This was just speculation by Olney but, he stated he felt the Yankees were going to do something big. Based on the rumors that are floating out there, the Yankees are not finished. It was absolutely essential that they re-signed Aaron Judge. Now that they have done that, they need to go whole hog. They are locked into Judge, who will most likely be named the team captain, for the next nine years. They need to build around him to make this a championship level team for the duration of that contract. They can do that through free agency, trades, and developing their own prospects.
I feel very good about the Judge signing but, like my kids at the amusement park, I'm ready for the next move. I want more. More can mean a lot of things. It can mean more free agent signings. It can mean trades such as Gleyber Torres for Major League ready relief pitchers or a starter. It can also mean opening the door for Cabrera, Peraza, and Volpe. Ideally, it will involve all of those things. Trades would also remove unnecessary components from the team. Josh Donaldson and Aaron Hicks do not need to be on the roster at the beginning of the season. Isiah Kiner-Falefa could stay in a backup role.
Observing the Yankees after the Judge signing, I feel like Captain Quint in Jaws. I see the tiny little motions in the line and I am buckling up because something big is about to happen. I agree with Buster Olney on that one. I just don't know what it is.