With the 2017 MLB season just weeks away, the New York Yankees are a team who appears to be stuck in the middle of no man’s land. They haven’t won a playoff series or truly made the playoffs in five years, and now appear destined to undergo a rebuild; however, some of their offseason acquisitions signal that they’re doing no such thing. General Manager Brian Cashman and the New York Yankees proclaim to be simultaneously trying to rebuild and contend. That is a clear indicator that they’re reluctant towards truly rebuilding.
New York Yankees Are Opposed To Truly Rebuilding
Making Gary Sanchez The Man Behind The Plate
The Yankees had a very different and unique offseason. They began business by trading catcher Brian McCann to the Houston Astros to help pave the way for rookie phenom Gary Sanchez to start at catcher. In just 53 games games, Sanchez hit 20 home runs and drove in 42 runs while hitting .299. Sanchez’s power bat has led the Yankees to believe that they can build around the young backstop; however, while the McCann trade appeared to indicate that the Yankees would deal away other veterans on their roster, they opted to just add onto the ones they already had present.
Aroldis Chapman and Matt Holliday
After trading the flamethrowing southpaw to the Chicago Cubs at the trade deadline, the Yankees were able to get Arolids Chapman back in the Bronx; the Yankees and Chapman agreed to a five-year/$85 million deal. Chapman helps give the Yankees one of the most intimidating arms in baseball. Hitting over 100 mph on his fastball, Chapman is nearly unhittable. His return will be a welcomed one.
Chapman isn’t the only veteran presence the Yankees signed though. In addition to Chapman, the Yankees agreed to a deal with former Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday.
The Yankees inked the veteran Holliday on a one-year/$13 million deal. While he’s regressed a bit hitting a career low .246 in 2016, Holliday is still a power bat; he hit 20 home runs in 2016. Also, considering the short porch in left field, Holliday should be able to hit for power in Yankee Stadium.
Holliday’s role in New York won’t be too sophisticated, as he’ll serve as the team’s designated hitter; however, the Yankees also agreed to a deal with the power hitting Chris Carter, who in a way complicates things.
The Chris Carter Quagmire
The Yankees inked the power hitting Chris Carter to a one-year/$3.8 million deal. Carter’s impact at the plate is what led the Yankees to lock up his services.
In the last four years combined, Carter has hit 134 home runs, and hit a career high 41 home runs in 2016 as well. Carter though struggles to consistency get on base, as his career batting average is just .218; however, his power bat makes him a great designated hitter, but at the moment, he doesn’t appear to have a spot in the Yankees order.
Currently, Matt Holliday is expected to be the Yankees designated hitter, and Carter’s role is currently set to be an on and off one. Carter is expected to platoon with young first baseman Greg Bird at first base depending on whether a righty or lefty is on the mound.
Is his batting average low? Yes, but considering the power he possess, it’s foolish to not have Carter’s bat in the order every day. This situation could’ve been avoided though if the Yankees had dealt off their other veterans in the offseason.
Not Trading Brett Gardner And Chase Headley Was A Missed Opportunity
While dealing away McCann was a must do for the Yankees, it appeared as if trading away outfielder Brett Gardner and infielder Chase Headley was inevitable as well. The Yankees thought differently though. They retained both veterans. Doing that was a mistake on their part.
While both Gardner and Headley are more than serviceable players, both are odd fits on the Yankees. On one hand, Gardner has been a Yankee his entire career, and saying goodbye would be rough, but his value will never be higher than it now. He’s under contract for two more years at roughly $13 million a year. Gardner also won a gold glove in 2016. The Yankees could’ve without a doubt netted some valuable assets from a team in need of a center fielder or left fielder for Gardner. Another factor to consider is the Yankees’ presence or lack thereof in Clint Frazier.
Gardner Hurts The Growth Of Clint Frazier
Last year, the Yankees traded away star reliever Andrew Miller to the Cleveland Indians. In return, they received a package centered around outfielder Clint Frazier. Frazier is now viewed as arguably the Yankees most valuable prospect. The issue is that Gardner prevents Frazier from starting in the foreseeable future.
Being that Gardner is under contract for the next two years and that he’s guaranteed to start, Frazier’s role on the Yankees in the near future appears unclear. If the Yankees were truly rebuilding though, Gardner would’ve been a no-brainer to deal. Also, if he had been dealt then the Yankees could’ve signed Holliday to play left field, and that would’ve opened up the designated hitter spot for Chris Carter. It could’ve also opened up a spot for Frazier to start.
By not trading Gardner, the Yankees showed that they’re opposed to a true rebuild. Not trading Chase Headley proves that same point.
Headley Hurts The Growth Of Gleyber Torres
In addition to Gardner, the Yankees chose to keep veteran third baseman Chase Headley. Much like Gardner, not dealing Headley was a mistake.
With two remaining on his deal at roughly $13 million a year, trading Headley seemed like a logical move for the Yankees. Doing so would’ve cleared some payroll and also would’ve opened up a spot for infield prospect Gleyber Torres.
The Yankees acquired infielder Gleyber Torres at the trade deadline in the deal where they sent Aroldis Chapman to the Chicago Cubs. Torres is a natural shortstop; however, the Yankees may look to move him to third base to pair him with current shortstop Didi Gregorious; however, such a process is on halt due to Headley’s continued tenure in New York.
The Yankees could’ve given themselves the chance to see what they had in their young studs, but instead they opted to keep Gardner and Headley. Doing so delays and prevents guys like Clint Frazier and Gleyber Torres from getting big league at bats in 2017.
The Yankees Simply Refuse To Undergo A True Rebuild
The Yankees brought in some good veteran players this offseason, but they also retained one, or two, too many. By not dealing guys like Brett Gardner and Chase Headley, as well as not looking to start all of young studs, the Yankees are showing a reluctancy towards truly rebuilding.
TORONTO, CANADA – SEPTEMBER 21: General manager Brian Cashman of the New York Yankees looks on during batting practice before the start of MLB game action against the Toronto Blue Jays on September 21, 2015 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)