Not ‘Ro-done’! These Crucial Decisions Remain for the New York Yankees
The New York Yankees got the deal Ro-done last night.
Late on Thursday, it was announced that the Yankees had come to terms on an agreement with left-handed starting pitcher Carlos Rodon, to the tune of six years and $162 million. Rodon joins a rotation that's already quite strong in New York, with Gerrit Cole, Nestor Cortes, Luis Severino and Frankie Montas surrounding the southpaw.
It's an incredible addition for New York, as they look to make it back to the World Series. That said, just because they've added Rodon, and re-signed Aaron Judge, doesn't mean Brian Cashman and company can rest on their laurels.
Moves are left to be made in The Bronx, and these are the areas we expect the team to focus on in the coming weeks.
Who Will Be the Team's Starting Left Fielder?
Harrison Bader is slated as the team's Opening Day center fielder, and Aaron Judge will return to his normal home in right field. That locks down two of the three outfield positions, but a resolution has yet to be found for left field in 2023.
The team traded for Andrew Benintendi at the Trade Deadline, and before he broke his hamate bone in his hand, seemed to be a strong fit in left for New York. He is still currently a free agent, and could return on a mid-term contract.
The team could look internally, and turn to Oswaldo Cabrera on a full-time basis, but my gut tells me that the Yankees would rather slot him in as the super-utility player in 2023, something Aaron Boone always likes to have in the mix.
They could look externally for a cheaper option, like Michael Conforto. Or, they could package a few prospects together, and acquire a player like Bryan Reynolds from the Pittsburgh Pirates. If I were to handicap the situation, my guess would be that Benintendi returns, or that Reynolds is acquired, and signed to an extension.
What Do You Do With Torres and the Middle Infield?
The more time that Gleyber Torres plays in New York, the less it seems as though Torres will remain with the Yankees for a long period of time. Torres was a can't-miss rising star when he arrived at the MLB level, but has failed to live up to those lofty expectations after the COVID-19 pandemic seemed to ruin his momentum.
He still holds value, but the Yankees have to decide if he's more valuable as their starting second baseman, or as a trade chip for another asset.
Elsewhere, the team has to decide where D.J. LeMahieu fits in, and of course, who will be manning the shortstop position. Isiah Kiner-Falefa will return in 2023, and Oswald Peraza and Anthony Volpe will both likely get cracks at being the team's everyday shortstop, but sooner or later, the Yankees will have to plant their flag in the ground for one player.
My prediction on this: though Torres would probably benefit from a fresh start, he appears to in good graces with the front office still. He will begin the year with the team, and depending on the development of the team's youngsters, and the health of LeMahieu, may become a trade chip for a massive trade deadline deal if the Yankees are in serious contention.
What, If Anything, Do You Plan on Doing with Josh Donaldson?
Ah yes, the hot corner at Yankee Stadium. Third base was hot last season, but not for the reason most fans would want. Josh Donaldson was a lightning rod for criticism for most of last year, but is still under contract for 2023.
In my mind, New York needs to find a home for Donaldson in 2023, even if it means attaching a mid-level prospect to him in a trade with another team. He is somewhat useful still, but never seemed to mesh well with fans in The Bronx last season.
I do believe that, eventually, we'll see a move that ships Donaldson out of town, and third base will be manned by LeMahieu, Kiner-Falefa, Cabrera and/or one of your two young infield prospects moving forward.
Are You Comfortable With Your Late-Inning Relievers?
With Aroldis Chapman officially out of the picture, the Yankees' bullpen is officially set to begin a new era. While New York's 'pen remains deep, it doesn't necessarily have the dominant force at the back-end that most fans are used to.
Clay Holmes appears to be the incumbent "closer" heading into 2023, but based on how the bullpen was handled in the playoffs, Aaron Boone's preference may be to return to a "closer by committee" set-up.
Between Holmes, Wandy Peralta, Jonathan Loaisiga, Ron Marinaccio, Lucas Luetge, a healthy Michael King and the return of Tommy Kahnle, the bullpen should remain a strength in New York. I do wonder if the team will pursue another high-leverage arm for the back-end of the bullpen, if one remains available.
I don't have a major prediction in this area, but it's still prudent to wonder.