The New York Yankees will embark on the 2018 season in less than 85 days, which makes this a good time to examine what could be their mark on the baseball world in 2018. The Yankees have for all intensive purposes completed what no one imagined possible, rebuild in a big market city without suffering through the agonizing “Tanking” process. This is a story of the new crop of talent in what is once again the mecca of baseball New York City.
These Yankees feel new, they feel fresh, a feeling that has captured the city once again. But they made sure to let the baseball world know the are still “The Evil Empire”. How so you ask? When the Yankees acquired the reigning National League Most Value Player….Giancarlo Stanton. Now think about this Yankees fans having Stanton and Judge in the same lineup day after day, week after week, month after month is what one may call the spoils of the rich. What makes this acquisition so similar to many other acquisitions from their “Evil Empire” past is that the Yankees weren’t looking for this. The Yankees weren’t seeking to make this deal, the Yankees were not in a position where they “needed” Giancarlo Stanton. Giancarlo was a luxury, a luxury that fell just so perfectly into place that you could use a quote associated with The Godfather movie franchise “It was an offer they couldn’t refuse.” By virtue of negotiations with the previous Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, Stanton was signed to the largest contract in baseball history as of this writing. The deal $325 Million over 13 years, and Loria did what he never has done. Loria gave the player a full no trade clause in his contract. This would be the proverbial nail in the coffin of any deal the Marlins would try to swing to get from under the burden of the contract. Stanton controlled his destiny and that destiny ultimately lead him to the Bronx where he would don the Pinstripes as a member of the New York Yankees.
Again, Stanton was a luxury as the team the Yankees fielded in 2017 came within one win of reaching the World Series. So needless to say that expectations will be high for the Bronx Bombers in 2018. Yet, this team is looking forward to the challenge, and a challenge it will be. As the team is constructed right now the Yankees would begin the new season with potentially two rookies at to premium positions in the infield. With the Yankees top prospect Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar are projected to be the teams starting second and third basemen respectively. But this is not the finished product as many around the industry believe that the Yankees even after acquiring Stanton. In that deal Starlin Castro the team’s starting 2nd Baseman was sent to South Beach leaving the opening for Torres. As well as the trade of third baseman Chase Headley back to San Diego along with his $13 million contract that left the spot at third open for Andujar. The Yankees also resigned CC Sabathia to help anchor a rotation that pitched well for the team especially down the stretch run to the playoffs.
Rumors and speculation have been cascading throughout the baseball world however of the possible return of Todd Frazier who was acquired from the Chicago White Sox in a trade deadline move that also saw former Yankees farm hands David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle (Both RHP) come back to the Yankees bullpen. Buster Olney of ESPN wrote about how the potentially slow moving position players market could be dropping the expected values of certain players contracts into a realm the Yankees would be comfortable with while still being able to maintain the ability to stay` under the luxury tax threshold.
The player that Olney speculated could be a fit if he were to remain on the market having not found the multiyear deal he was looking for is Mike Moustakas (formerly of the Kansas City Royals). The Yankees had another “Moose” in the Bronx who worked out pretty well for them (Mike Mussina- whose on the Hall of Fame ballot and deserves real consideration in my book, by I digress). Moustakas hit a career high 38 homeruns and drove in 85 RBI’s leading to a 116 OPS+ (100 OPS is league average). Obviously, these are the speculative type of ideas that get talked about when only 1 of the top 10 free agents heading into this offseason has signed as of January 1st. So if the markets for Frazier and/or Moustakas continues to drop look for the Yankees to potentially make another big time acquisition.
The Yankees main goal is as it always has been and that’s to win the World Series. However, this season there is goal 1: Get under the $197 million dollar luxury tax threshold and goal 1a: Win the World Series. Both of theses goals are going to be actively pursued by the Yankees. There’s no doubt in the minds of anyone around the baseball world. Even most Yankees fans are on board with trying to get under the luxury tax. This type of strict adherence to a “BUDGET” however is not something that has happened in New York’s Bronx borough in a long time. Not since Mr. Steinbrenner purchased the Yankees organization in 1973 have the Yankees been so focused on being under the luxury tax. This season they are finally close enough they can achieve this goal with so many big money contracts now off the books. Every team in baseball is making sure that they are under because everyone is looking forward to the free agent class of 2019 and the Yankees are no exception.
The 2018 season in the Bronx is set to be one of many victories with the young core they have raised up through their own system. Having a homegrown veteran like Brett Gardner that has show to be the heart of this team. To having guys like Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird, having Luis Severino as the ace of the pitching staff. Leading to the new nucleus of Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar, and for the pitching staff Justus Sheffield and Chance Adams. The adding in real talent from outside the organization like a Giancarlo Stanton or Mashiro Tanaka when he came over from Japan. Over when the Yankees traded for Aroldis Chapman then resigned him after the 2016 season concluded, to the resigning of CC Sabathia this offseason to keep him in the fold. The Yankees have gone back to an old formula in building this team. Now let’s be clear these are not the Yankees of the late 90’s. However, the blueprint that was helped laid out by the late great Gene “Stick” Michaels is the blueprint that Brian Cashman is using. That blueprint will be tested starting this season. The sudo-rebuild that Cashman was able to accomplish will give hope to teams like the Chicago White Sox, the Atlanta Braves even the Philadelphia Phillies all teams with surplus talent in the minors. The Yankees however would have done it better, by not having endured a losing season in the process.
So as long as the Yankees young players continue to develop and learn to harness their abilities these New York Yankees will be that next great Yankee’s Dynasty. And like Gehrig and Ruth, and Mantle and Maris before then Judge and Stanton have a chance to set the baseball world ablaze with the types of displays one might only encounter on beginner settings of Playstation’s exclusive product title MLB The Show 18. While most of us grew up watching the “Core 4” of Jeter, Rivera, Pettitte and Posada we will now have the new foundation with Judge, Severino, Bird and Sanchez. Could this team become a Dynasty ? We will find out the answer to that very question in less than 85 days.