The Yankees are mired in their worst season in a quarter century. In addition to their mediocre season, two of their biggest stars, Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez, announced that this would be their last season as professionals. A-Rod and Tex’s retirement marks the end of an era for the Pinstripes, which saw them win their only title in the past 15 years. Although the Yankees only won one title after their spending spree before the 2009 season, they were perennial contenders through the 2012 season.
Unlike past Yankee teams, Brian Cashman and the Steinbrenners realized their current position and assets and decided to make the decision to look toward the future. The Yankees were blessed with possessing the two best assets at the trading deadline, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman, and many of the current contenders had a dire need for a devastating relief pitcher with experience. In addition, the Yankees were willing to deal one of the best bats available and were undoubtedly able to net such a high return for Beltran because of his past postseason success. Before the trade deadline, the Yankees had four prospects ranked inside the top 100 and were considered to have an average farm system. However, after the three major deals, many experts surmise that the Yankees now possess one of the top three farm systems in baseball.
In exchange for Chapman, Miller, and Beltran, the Yankees were able to net Clint Frazier (22nd overall prospect), Gleyber Torres (24th overall prospect), Justus Sheffield (93 overall prospect), Dillon Tate (4th overall selection in 2015), Billy McKinney (former first round pick), and other lower level, but high upside prospects. Although Frazier, Judge, Sanchez, Severino, and Bird may be able to help the Yankees next season, the Yankees will have to wait for probably three years to see benefits from the players. With the infusion of these players and the Yankees’ deep pockets, they should be able to develop a core that could win multiple titles. The Yankees best hope for a title will likely be after the 2018 offseason when there is set to be one of the greatest free agent classes of all-time.
Potential 2019 Roster:
Catcher: Gary Sanchez
Credits to NJ.com
Over the past several years, Sanchez has received hype from around baseball as one of the best catching prospects in baseball. Sanchez seems ready to finally reach the big leagues and play regularly behind the plate. This season, Sanchez is batting .285 with 10 home runs, 50 RBIs, 39 runs, and 21 doubles. Sanchez has the talent and hitting potential to become an All-Star, one of the top hitting catchers in the entire league, and a middle of the order run producer. Sanchez does not have excellent catching ability, but he has an incredible arm and should be able to shut down opposing running games.
First Base: Greg Bird
Last season, the Yankees were able to see Bird play regularly in the Bronx and nearly every fan was impressed with his skills. While replacing Teixeira, Bird hit .261 and accumulated 11 home runs, 31 RBIs, 26 runs, and 9 doubles in only 46 games. Bird does not have the same power as Teixeira, but he should be able to average 25 home runs per season and hit for a .280 average. Bird has a compact, line drive swing that should enable him to become a solid contributor and a run producing machine. The short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium should allow some of his line drives to clear the yard and increase his power numbers. Like Sanchez, Bird should be able to bat in the middle of the order and collect over 40 doubles during his prime. Along with Bird’s bat, he has an above average glove, even though he will not be collecting multiple gold gloves like Teixeira.
Second Base: Jorge Mateo
The Yankees will have numerous options up the middle over the next few seasons because the only young players on their current roster are Castro and Gregorious. In addition, the Yankees have two top prospects that could play anywhere in the infield. The Yankees have Starlin Castro signed to a reasonable contract through the 2019 season. During the 2019 season, Castro will be only 29 and in the middle of his prime. This season, Castro has been a consistent .260-.270 hitter with decent power and solid defense. The Yankees could keep Castro, but they would hope that Jorge Mateo will grab the job from the veteran. Mateo is currently 21 years old and may be the fastest player in the minors. Last season, Mateo stole 82 bases while batting .321 in the A+ league. This season, Mateo has taken a step back and has batted only .255, but still produced 28 steals, 39 RBIs, 50 runs, 6 home runs, 8 triples, and 11 doubles. Currently Mateo is playing shortstop, but he will likely move to second due to their depth and free agent options.
Shortstop: Didi Gregorious
The Yankees will have a very difficult decision at shortstop in the future because of the emergence of Didi Gregorious this season. This season, Gregorious has been the Yankees’ best and most consistent hitter after Carlos Beltran. This year, he is batting .292 with 11 home runs and 44 runs while playing excellent defense. Gregorious is under team control until 2020, which gives the Yankees the option to either keep him at shortstop or deal him for a pitcher or an outfield. If the Yankees decide to look externally for a shortstop, they will look to sign Manny Machado when he becomes available in 2019. Machado is easily one of the five best players in the game because he can hit for average and power while playing gold glove caliber defense at either third base or shortstop. This season, Machado is having his best season by batting .302 with 22 home runs, 58 RBIs, and 71 runs. Machado will be difficult to sign because he will only be 26 and will likely command a contract around 8-10 years and $250 million. The Yankees should be able to afford the contract, especially if they are cost conscious over the next few seasons. However, the Orioles will not easily lose their best player and will do everything in their power to re-sign their franchise player.
Third Base: Gleyber Torres
Torres was the first prospect acquired by the Yankees, when they dealt Chapman to the Chicago Cubs. Torres was the Cubs’ best prospects and currently ranks second in the Yankees’ farm system. Torres currently mans the shortstop position, but the team is determined to move him to either second or third depending on the development of their other prospects. Torres will only be 22 in 2019, but he has the tools to develop into a potential MLB All-Star. Torres will not hit for huge power, but he should connect for 20 home runs in his prime, a very good average, above average speed, and an elite run scorer. If the Yankees opt to acquire Machado or deal Mateo for a starting pitcher, Torres will likely move to second base.
Left Field: Clint Frazier
Credits to New York Daily News
The most MLB ready prospect that the Yankees received during the trade deadline was Clint Frazier. Frazier, 21-year old outfielder, was the former 5th overall pick in the 2013 MLB draft and rated as the 22nd overall prospect. Frazier has all the skills to succeed and should become a future multiple time All-Star. Fraizer’s skills have been compared to Mike Trout, even though it will be very difficult for Frazier to match Trout’s dominance. This season, Frazier is batting .276 with 13 home runs, 48 RBIs, 56 runs, and 13 steals in only 89 games in Double-A. After the trade to the Yankees, Frazier was elevated to Triple-A and should be able to play in the Bronx during the 2017 season, especially if Gardner is traded. Frazier has the power and potential to become a right handed power bat in the middle of the order. Frazier could move over to center field, but it seems likely that he will remain on the corners.
Center Field: Jacoby Ellsbury
The only Yankee starter that will be over 30 is Jacoby Ellsbury as he will be 35 in 2019. Jacoby has been one of Brian Cashman’s worst signings because he is not worth anywhere near the $20+ million he is paid per season. Ellsbury is already struggling and he is still in the relative prime of his career. Since signing with New York in 2014, Ellsbury has not batted over .275 nor hit over 20 home runs nor scored 75 runs. By 2019, the Yankees will try to rid themselves of Ellsbury, but it is unlikely that they will find a suitor for the former star. The Yankees have a center field prospect in Blake Rutherford, their first round selection this season, but he will not be ready for the 2019 season.
Right Field: Bryce Harper
Credits to Bleacher Report
The rumors of Bryce Harper to the Yankees are already extremely hot and there is still two years until he is a free agent. Harper would be a great free agent signing for the Yankees because he would be entering the prime of his career and would draw major attention again to the Bronx. Last season, Harper had one of the greatest seasons in the last 50 as he hit .330/.460/.649 with 42 home runs and 118 runs. However, this season, his average has significantly decreased, .238, but the rest of his stats are solid and he remains one of the best players in the league. Harper would fit right into the middle of the Yankees’ lineup and would be able to hit over 50 home runs due to the short porch in right. The Yankees will have a great chance at signing Harper because he has always dreamed of being a Yankee and the Yankees should be able to offer him a huge contract to lure him from the Nationals.
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The Yankees currently have a young starting staff, but many of their starters, Eovaldi, Green, and Pineda, are not realistic long term options for a championship team. In the same offseason as Harper, Jose Fernandez is set to become a free agent at age 26. Fernandez has been one of the best pitchers in the entire league because of his array of nasty pitches. Fernandez would be the true ace that the Yankees have been looking for since signing CC Sabathia. After Fernandez, Tanaka would be a fantastic number two for the team. Tanaka has been very consistent throughout his career with the Yankees, even though he has been battling elbow injuries. Tanaka has not been able to duplicate his performances from before his elbow tear, but he will continue to pitch to an ERA in the low 3s. Tanaka will only be 30 during the 2019 season so he should continue to be a workhouse for the team in the middle of his prime. Behind Tanaka, the Yankees will be relying on young, unproven starters with tons of talents. The only young Yankee with experience is Luis Severino and he has displayed success in the Bronx. This season, Severino has been terrible as a starter, but he seems to be turning around his season in the bullpen and he was exceptional during the second half of last season. Severino is a former top prospect with high 90s fastball, nasty slider, and good changeup. The Yankees have two very good prospects in the minors that seem ready to take a place in the rotation. Sheffield and Kaprielian do not have the best stuff in the minor leagues, but they have been very successful and possess enough firepower to become successful middle of rotation starters. Kaprielian is a developed starter that should be able to contribute for the Yankees in the near future while Sheffield will need a couple more years before he enters the pros. If these prospects do not develop quickly, the Yankees could look to trade for a star, like Sale, attempt to develop another prospect, like Tate, or sign another free agent, like Harvey.
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The Yankees had one of the best bullpens in MLB history before they decided to trade both Chapman and Miller for prospects at the deadline. Unlike Miller, the Yankees will have a great chance at re-signing Chapman at the end of the season. Chapman is one of the best closers in the league because of his 100+ mph fastball and solid slider. Due to Betances’ financial situation and desire to win, Betances would be more than willing to cede his current closer position back to Chapman if he is re-signed in the winter. In order to reach Chapman at the end of the bullpen, the Yankees will need a significantly better bullpen than they currently possess. Along with Chapman, the Yankees should be able to keep Betances, who has developed into one of the best relievers in the league. Betances is the only active reliever to be selected to three straight All-Star appearances. Betances has the tendency to be wild, but he has a high 90s fastball and a nasty curveball, which makes him unhittable at times. Fortunately, the Yanks have many live arms that could become shut down options for the team if they remain on the team. In the deals at the deadline, the Yankees acquired Dillon Tate and Ben Heller. Although Tate has significant talent and they hope that he will become a starter, he has not impressed as a starter in the minors and he was only a starter during one season in college. In the bullpen, Tate will be able to use his fastball and slider to overpower hitters, if he only has to pitch one inning. Like Tate, Heller has a live arm and should be able to pitch in the middle innings before Betances and Chapman. The Yankees have a few lefty options in the farm that could dominant important lefty hitters in the middle of the order. Lindgren has years of experience in the bullpen, which is the reason why he pitched in the Bronx last season. Clarkin was drafted in the first round as a starter, but he has dealt with numerous options and it seems unlikely that he will be able to withstand the pressure and physicality of a long MLB season. If used as a reliever, Clarkin should be able to remain on the field and become a useful piece.