Yankees Offseason Storylines
With the Yankees season officially done after being overpowered by Dallas Keuchel and the Houston Astros in the American League wildcard game, their offseason starts a bit sooner than they had hoped.
The Yankees surprising playoff birth in a tough American League East this past season puts them in a very interesting position entering the offseason. They now look to become a younger team and maintain their position as a playoff contender in the AL.
The first storyline Yankee fans need to pay attention to is the health of All-Star first basemen Mark Teixeira. Could we possibly be in the midst of a changing of the guard at first with Greg Bird's emergence late in the season in the absence of Teixeira? It is more likely than not that Teixeira could be a platoon player as he enters the last year of his contract. The Yankees need to get younger and Bird has a ton of leverage heading into spring training with his great performance late in the season helping the Yankees reach the playoffs. Bird played approximately 1/3 of a season for the Bombers and his numbers were staggering. Bird hit 11 HR's, and totaled 31 RBI's in 157 at bats, which if we were to speculate what his statistics would look like in a full season, would be north of 30 HR's and 90 RBI's; solid production for such a young player that will only get better with more playing time.
C.C. Sabathia's leave from the club late in the season as he checked into rehab is another interesting scenario that will play out this offseason. Sabathia is entering the final year of his deal and his commitment has to be in question following the abrupt way in which he left the team as they entered the 2015 postseason. Even though it was a bad time for Sabathia to leave, you can't complain that he left as he tries to get his personal life in order. If anything, the Yankees should expect a healthier and more focused Sabathia once pitchers and catchers report, but will he be the Sabathia we saw late in the season that baffled hitters with a variety of off-speed pitches, or the guy earlier in the season who was being taken out of games after 50-60 pitches?
With an emerging Luis Severino, who paired with a healthy Masahiro Tanaka can form a great duo on paper, it's the back end of the rotation where Sabathia can definitely help them out. We've seen it in the past just how important it is to have veteran pitchers either in a rotation or the bullpen, and Sabathia could be that guy next season.
The Yankees are always in the middle of the free agent frenzy in the offseason, but I wouldn't be surprised if they are a bit quiet this time around. The Bombers have a plethora of young talent that they look to have up on the big league roster this upcoming season. In addition to Bird and Rob Refsnyder, the team will also feature a few other prospects to contribute at some point in the 2016 season. Aaron Judge leads the way and could even make the opening day roster, even though the Yankees would like to keep him in the minors (perhaps another Kris Bryant situation?). Others expected to make the squad at some point include C Gary Sanchez, LHP Ian Clarkin, and RHP James Kaprielian.
Even with this young talent, the Yankees will be in on a few big-name free agents for sure. Expect them to show interest in SP Jeff Samardzija, 2B/OF Ben Zobrist, OF Jason Heyward, LHP Scott Kazmir, LHP David Price, and RHP Zack Greinke. Signing more than one of these names is highly unlikely.
This offseason will undoubtedly be an important one for the Yankees as they look to maintain their relevance in the highly competitive American League East. What do you expect the Bombers to do this offseason? Let us know and listen in to Armen & Levack weekdays from 3 to 7 p.m. on 104.5 the Team.