As the book of the 2017 season closed for the New York Yankees back in late October. Yankees fans still had a sense of hope, they had a sense of optimism for the team set to be rebuilding in 2017 came within one game of reaching the World Series. This quick turn around could have not have been estimated even by the most betting of men. I team that a mere 14 months prior traded off assets in an unprecedented maneuver in the Bronx. Yet, General Manager Brian Cashman had a plan, a course of action in which to achieve the teams ultimate goal winning the World Series. So as the offseason began Cash and his Leutienants began searching throughout the league to find value and to improve the team whilst looking to remain under the $197million luxury tax threshold. Thus began the brilliant strategy Cashman employs to wait for the market to come to him. Allowing him to secure talent at a fraction of the cost. It’s how the Yankees were able to acquire Sonny Gray during the 2017 non-waiver trade deadline for three blocked prospects two of which had sustained season ending injuries prior to the trade.
Cashman used this tactic and the financial flexibility that the Yankees had, with some over priced contracts no longer on the payroll. Cash used this to be able to take on a majority of the salary relief the Miami Marlins were looking for on the contracts of the 2017 National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton. The Yankees were willing to take on $265m of the $295m on Stanton’s remaining 10 year deal. The LA Dodgers were by all reports Stanton’s number one choice but with the Dodgers not having shed enough payroll at that time to acquire Stanton and still being able to get under the luxury tax threshold they did not continue talks with the Marlins after the Marlins refused to keep $95m of the salary Stanton is due.
Now in order to have this move work the Yankees needed to shed some payroll themselves and Cashman began to work his magic. First Cash sent 1B/3B Chase Headley back to the San Diego Padres along side RHP Bryan Mitchell. A talented young arm who didn’t quite rise to the top of the depth chart, except for a brief time in the Spring Training of 2015 when Mitchell when he would have become the 5th starter until an injury the last week of Spring Training. Mitchell has upside and in pitcher friendly confines of Petco Park in San Diego Mitchell may be able to find success. The wizardry of this move by Cashman however was that the Padres took on the entire $13m of Chase Headley’s contract. (Yankees received OF Jabari Blash in return) This move as well as trading Starlin Castro in the Stanton deal gave the Yankees enough payroll flexibility to take on the $25m or so that Stanton is set to receive this season.
Now that the background of how we got here has been covered, the Yankees lineup will be extremely strong. Despite that if the season began today the Yankees would most likely enter with two rookie position players in the lineup. This breakdown is a potential Opening Day Lineup option for new Yankees manager Aaron Boone.
Leading off and playing Left Field Brett Gardner.
Gardner in 2017 had a career year in the power department knocking out 21 homeruns. Gardy is a patient batter that looks for his pitch and is pesky until he gets it. If you don’t believe it just take a look at his at bat in game 5 of the ALDS.
Next up batting second the Right Fielder and the reigning 2017 unanimous Rookie of the Year Aaron Judge.
Now some might question why would you have a guy who hit 52 homeruns in 2017 hitting in the 2 spot as opposed to lower in the order to be a “Run Producer”. The answer is very simple Judge has a tremendous eye at the plate. Sure he will strike out a lot so will every other guy who has 50+ homerun power. However, Judge also has an uncanny ability to draw a walk, made clear by walking a rookie record 127 times in 2017. Another reason to bat someone with Judge’s skillset in the 2 spot when looking at deeper analytics is that the 2nd spot in the order is now where most teams feel the best hitter should be.
Up third and this is the spot in the lineup that will cause the most debate. Traditional thinking would dictate that the newly acquired Giancarlo Stanton should bat in this spot. However, I don’t believe that is the way to allocate the abundant resources that this lineup has at it’s disposal. So for this iteration the man in charge of holding the fort in the number 3 spot in Greg Bird.
Again, I think that this spot and Bird’s placement may be cause for some debate but I feel a healthy Greg Bird playing first base and placed in between the power tandem of Judge and Stanton is a recipe for a much more potent mixture. Breaking up these two particular right handers isn’t really about late game matchups but that does help. It’s more so about playing Bird in a position to succeed and to succeed in phenomenal fashion. Bird when healthy has the potential to hit 30+ homeruns and in between Judge and Stanton possibly even 40 homerun power output. Bird will see plenty of pitches to hit being sandwiched in between the right handed mega powers.
Cleaning up the bases that will probably be loaded is the newest Yankee Giancarlo Stanton.
Stanton is now for the first time in his career is going to be playing in meaningful games. Stanton will be playing with purpose and Stanton will be DH’ing and hitting cleanup for the Bronx Bombers.
Hitting 5th for the Bombers in 2018 should be the starting Shortstop Didi Gregorius.
This could be another spot that some debate gets made over, but unlike in Bird’s case this move is about breaking up the right handed power. Didi proved a real spark for the Yankees lineup in 2017. Gregorius spent a lot of time batting third or fourth in the lineup including in the playoffs, this lead to Didi having a very good power year despite missing the first month with an injury that carried over from the WBC. So with this lineup and that fact that opposing pitchers will have to throw pitches to someone Didi in this spot can capitalize.
In the 6th hole in the lineup I’d place Catcher Gary Sanchez.
I know that the placement of Bird and Gregorius higher in the lineup make having such a potent bat like Sanchez drop so much lower in the order that it seems counter intuitive. However, this lineup is extremely deep so someone will be batting in the 6th spot in the Yankees lineup that in any other lineup would be batting no lower than 4th. Having Sanchez with his own 40 homerun power potential hit in the 6th spot lengthens this lineup to levels that almost on other teams in the majors are capable of competing with. So the Kraken hits 6th
The 7th spot is where the lineup takes one of two approaches if the Yankees resign Todd Frazier or if Mike Moustakas’ price falls into the realm the Yankees are able to afford without hindering the budget on a one year deal either of those two guys can take over this spot in the order. Or if Cashman finds that the trade market is a bit more feasible then maybe a Josh Harrison or a Jedd Gyorko or a Brandon Drury man the hot corner and hit in this spot.
Otherwise, playing Third base and batting 7th Yankees farm hand Miguel Andujar will be here. Andujar’s bat is major league ready right now but he has had some defensive lapses so look for Brian Cashman to sure up one if not both infield vacancies.
In the 8th spot a guy who has some power potential and is a switch hitter to help with continuing to balance this Yankees lineup, playing Center Field Aaron Hicks. Hicks has some pop in this bat and hitting behind the Murderer’s Row 2.0 he will see pitches to hit. As well as provide the Yankees with some serious gold glove caliber defense in centerfield.
Lastly batting in the 9th spot or the second leadoff depending on your outlook and playing Second Base Yankees Top Prospect Gleyber Torres
Torres has many high expectations on him following impressive campaigns as he progressed throughout each level of the minor league and in the Arizona Fall League winning the MVP a few seasons ago. Gleyber will be coming back from Tommy John Surgery on his non-throwing elbow that occurred on a head first slide into home plate. However, by all accounts he will be ready to go for Spring Training and competing for a starting spot for the Opening Day Lineup in 2018.
The Yankees have a very deep lineup with some versatile guys waiting in the wings to help this team. March 29th is the Yankees season opener against the Toronto Blue Jays in Toronto and I for one am very excited to see this team and the great things it can do. Obviously culminating in being crowned the 2018…2019…2020…World Series Champions.