The New York Yankees have a fairly self-explanatory to-do list as they prepare for the 2022 season.
It’s been almost two weeks since we last discussed the New York Yankees and the disappointingly lost 2021 season.
A lot has happened in that short time since. Marcus Thames and Phil Nevin won’t return in their respective roles as hitting and third base coaches. Aaron Boone’s future isn’t any clearer, nor is the team’s offseason plan.
Meanwhile, the American League pennant will be won by either the Boston Red Sox or Houston Astros, basketball season won’t hurry up and start, and the meteor can’t be bothered to arrive in these trying times?
Okay, fine. Maybe that’s a bit melodramatic, but can you blame a guy? The offseason came way too early for the New York Yankees and there are still far more questions than there are answers. Forget whether Boone will return as manager. What about the glaring roster issues facing Brian Cashman as he enters the last year of his contract?
The New York Yankees have a lot to do this winter, starting with these five tasks.
Get the front office and dugout on the same page
This is a very broad thing to say, but relates specifically to the Yankees’ new coaching vacancies. Marcus Thames addressed his dismissal to Brendan Kuty of NJ.com and mentioned differences between the big league club and minor league development team’s respective approaches.
Granted, this isn’t necessarily a red flag, but still presents something of a problem. The whole point of the minors is to prepare young talent for the majors. Why, then, would the big league club carry a different approach entirely? That’s not a strong formula for getting the best out of a team.
Regardless of who succeeds Thames and Nevin, communication has to be better across all levels. Teamwork extends beyond what happens on the field and if it doesn’t exist in this type of decision-making, the New York Yankees are doomed to fail.
Retain Aaron Boone as manager
Yankees Twitter won’t like it, but we’re going to be adults and ignore them. Even with the last two disappointing years, Aaron Boone has still done a good job managing the New York Yankees. Even when his laid-back approach gets irritating, it’s clear the players love him and the front office does too.
Had it become clear he lost the team this past year, moving on from him would have been the right call. Yet, a report from Buster Olney of ESPN states owner Hal Steinbrenner is leaning towards retaining Boone on a new contract. But it’s clear that even if he is back, Boone will be on notice. Thames and Nevin wouldn’t have been let go otherwise.
Either way, it’s clear these New York Yankees respond well to Aaron Boone. Letting him go, at least at this stage, isn’t the right decision.
Extend Anthony Rizzo
It is impossible to be a New York Yankees fan and dislike the idea of Anthony Rizzo being on the team. He can hit all over the field, his lefty power swing is tailor-made for Yankee Stadium, and he grew up rooting for the team. Filling in for an injured Luke Voit, Rizzo hit .249 with eight home runs, 21 RBI, and a .768 OPS.
Now, Rizzo is a free agent and the Yankees have a crowded infield. Given the overabundance of righties in the lineup, Cashman should re-sign Rizzo to a manageable long-term deal if both parties are interested. The 32-year-old earned $16.5 million in 2021, so a four-year deal at a slight annual raise seems fair. Not to mention, Rizzo was an immediate fit in the clubhouse and soon became a fan favorite upon arrival.
Now, about the rest of the infield…
Trade Luke Voit for pitching
Voit’s had a roller coaster journey with the New York Yankees. He came over in a trade in 2018 and immediately slotted in at first base despite limited MLB action. His raw power made him a cult hero, and he’s been the Yankees’ first baseman ever since.
Well, at least until last year. Like so many of his Yankees contemporaries, Voit’s success on the field has been overshadowed by injuries. He was limited to 68 games in 2021 and didn’t appear too happy about New York trading for Rizzo. Voit was public in his feelings, going so far as to say, “I deserve to play as much as he does.”
Thankfully, Luke Voit still has plenty of value after leading MLB in home runs during the shortened 2020 season. Even with his fragility, he can still mash baseballs. If a team is willing to offer the New York Yankees pitching that can fit either at the back of the rotation or down on the farm, it could be hard to turn down.
Plus, if the Yankees sweeten the pot with Gio Urshela and then use the money saved to sign someone like Corey Seager, all the better.
Extend Aaron Judge
In 2021, we finally got a real idea of just how special Aaron Judge is as a player. He didn’t hit over 50 home runs like he did his rookie year, but still hit .287 with 39 home runs and 98 RBI. He earned just over $10 million last season and turns 30 in April. 2022 is also his last year before free agency, so it’s time to pay the man. And well.
Now, do I really need to spend time justifying a Judge extension? Come on. We all know his greatest hits by now.
He overflows with charisma. His arm strength is such that it’s a wonder NASA doesn’t study it when building its rockets. He is baseball’s Thanos and his bat is an indestructible Infinity Gauntlet.
I don’t want to hear a damn thing about the luxury tax. Stop worrying about payroll and pay Aaron Judge like the once-in-a-generation talent he is.