The Yankees not making the playoffs means more than the players going home and hitting the golf course early. It means general manager Brian Cashman and owner Hal Steinbrenner can get a head start on the offseason.
A meeting set for Tampa in Wednesday will all but confirm what’s been reported. Aaron Boone will return to manage the team. There’s also that third-party audit looming and maybe some big changes not far behind. Plus the usual roster holes that need filling.
And no, Shohei Ohtani isn’t coming to the Bronx.
Rather, the Yankees own front office has a simple offseason priority list: Fix the house, and fix the team.
Set the outfield. The Yankees have in-house options here, but need a solid Plan B as well. Aaron Judge is the only lockdown option in right field, but will probably make some starts in center too. That leaves two gaping holes, and Jasson Dominguez won’t be back from Tommy John surgery until June or July.
Estevan Florial has potential, but the strikeouts are a problem. Everson Pereira has potential but is also a big leap of faith, and a similar leap saw Anthony Volpe bat .209 as a rookie. Oswaldo Cabrera could also get another look if he improves his hitting.
There’s also free agency, but who is the difference-maker in a class featuring Ohtani and a bunch of old journeymen? Cody Bellinger and the fortunate .319 BABIP he posted with the Cubs? Maybe Joey Gallo gets another shot with Sean Casey as his hitting coach? Cashman could do the unthinkable and trade for Juan Soto but for now, the Yankees’ outfield has more questions than it does answers.
Solidify the pitching staff. Luis Severino is probably gone which means the Yankees only have two set spots in the rotation. Gerrit Cole is the ace and Carlos Rodon’s contract means he’s back next year. Michael King closed out strong in the rotation, but he’ll need to carry that into spring training.
Nestor Cortes remains an option, but can he stay healthy? The Yankees could also try and sell high on Clarke Schmidt’s emergence in a trade for an outfielder. Ohtani’s World Baseball Classic teammate Yoshinobu Yamamoto is clearly on Cashman’s radar.
All this to say, expect a fully revamped (again) pitching staff next year.
Get everyone on the same page. Everyone from WFAN’s various talking heads to fans to news media has something to say about the Yankees and analytics. Usually, it’s in the vein of how Cashman cares too much about them and needs to let Boone do his job.
However, Judge offered a different assessment. Calling New York’s analytics team “top-notch,” he softly suggested a different means of applying the data and “just looking at the right numbers.”
There’s clearly a communication gap between the analytics department, scouting, and other parts of the front office. Bridging it is top priority before making any roster decisions.