The New York Yankees are quietly putting together a killer offseason; start taking notice.
By Skylar Darel
Zach Greinke is an Arizona Diamondback. Jordan Zimmerman is a Detroit Tiger. David Price is a member of the Boston Red Sox. Daniel Murphy has relocated to Washington. None of the many big offseason deals have involved the New York Yankees, yet they’ve made two moves that have made them a significantly better ball club.
The first was trading for former Chicago Cubs infielder Starlin Castro. The versatile infielder is a three-time All-Star who, despite some recent struggles, finished the 2015 MLB regular season on a high.
The second was the acquisition of Aroldis Chapman, a move which cost the Yankees barely anything.
Yankees have acquired Aroldis Chapman from the Reds for RHPs Caleb Cotham and Rookie Davis and INFs Eric Jagielo and Tony Renda.
— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) December 28, 2015
The Yankees offseason success isn’t just about the players they’ve acquired. Castro gives this team tremendous infield depth, and a solid bat that can slot in anywhere in the lineup. Chapman represents a power arm in the bullpen that creates a ridiculously potent 7th-8th-9th inning trio.
The offseason success can largely be attributed to three reasons: first, they are filling the holes on their roster. Second, they aren’t breaking the bank to do so. And third, they’ve managed to work the trade market without surrendering any top prospects.
Lets look at the first reason: filling holes in the roster. Second base was a glaring issue in 2015.
Rob Refsnyder, Stephen Drew, Jose Pirela, Dustin Ackley and Brendan Ryan combined to play the position throughout 2015. While each of them brought a different strength to the table (for instance, Drew hit 17 home runs, while Ryan is a solid defender).
The Yankees needed to bring in a solid, everyday second baseman to provide stability at the position. Instead of going for a veteran free agent and signing him to a $40 million deal, they traded for 25-year-old Starlin Castro, who provides more offensive upside than all five of his predecessors combined.
Dellin Betances pitched more innings than any relief pitcher in baseball, and was clearly gassed by the end of the season. Andrew Miller was also used a lot. Justin Wilson was strong towards the end of the season, but he doesn’t have the same upside as a healthy, non-suspended Chapman, who made the All-Star team and recorded 30+ saves the last four seasons. At 27, Chapman represents another youthful upgrade at a key position.
The second reason the Yankees have had a successful offseason was fiscal responsibility.
They haven’t shelled out any massive contracts, and it doesn’t seem like they will, either. They may target a mid-level starting pitcher like Wei-Yin Chen, Scott Kazmir, or Ian Kennedy.
They also may shell out the big bucks for outfielder Justin Upton. However, the Yankees have been keen on keeping their spending at bay during the last two seasons, in order to keep their roster young and to avoid big contracts.
By adding Castro and Chapman via trade, they got younger, and didn’t spend massive amounts of money on contracts.
Finally, they’ve managed to acquire two players with a combined seven All-Star experiences, all in the last six seasons, without surrendering any of their major prospects.
Outside of reliever Adam Warren, they’ve parted ways with several mid level prospects, but held on to their prized possessions: Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, and Mason Williams in the minors, along with Greg Bird and Luis Severino in the majors.
Moving forward, the Yankees still have holes, as pointed out by Bleacher Report’s Zachary Rymer:
If the Yankees do keep Chapman, Miller and Betances, they're basically the Royals…minus the speed, contact and defense.
— Zachary D. Rymer (@zachrymer) December 28, 2015
However, they have taken strides towards improving as a franchise, through youth and fiscal responsibility. They have improved in key positions, and still have some trade chips remaining.
Brett Gardner could usher in a nice return if dealt, and Chapman’s arrival could suggest that Andrew Miller will be dealt for some players who could fill the holes on the Yankee roster.
They should be considered one of the big winners of the MLB offseason.
Give credit where credit is due. General manager Brian Cashman has dealt two cards, and so far, so good. Lets see how he plays out the rest of his hand.