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The season is over and the Boston Red Sox are World Champions, eliminating New York along the way. The Bronx Bombers will want to have an offseason that will keep this from happening again in 2019. With that in mind, I decided to write my suggested blueprint for it.
The number one concern for the team should be starting pitching. Luis Severino and Masahiro Tanaka are not going anywhere, J.A. Happ, Lance Lynn and CC Sabathia however are free agents and all should be allowed to move on. Happ was decent during the season, but based on his age and playoff performance isn’t worth a multi-year deal at $13+ million a year that he’ll likely command. Sabathia’s age and peripherals imply that it’s best to move on from him as well. Lynn has actually pitched well in New York but should only be looked at as a bottom of the rotation starter at this point.
Patrick Corbin is likely to end up in his home state but I’m concerned about the fact that his only ace-like season happened in his contract year and that he will likely be paid like one. That said, he’ll probably be signed and may actually work out. The next best available free agent starter is Charlie Morton, but he’s turning 35 in November and has never reached 200 innings in a season. That said, would he take a 2 or 1 year deal with a high AAV? Another top free agent option is Dallas Keuchel, but with Scott Boras as his agent, his non-ace like performance in the last few seasons and a low strikeout rate, I would easily pass on signing him to a contract that Boras will almost certainly demand for him. Nathan Eovaldi has too much of a shaky track record and will likely be overpaid based on his second half and playoff performance.
Of course Clayton Kershaw would be the best option if he opts out of his contract, but he’s no longer as good as he was before, is only going to decline further and will likely command a record contract. In other words, he’s not a good target. On the trade market, Robbie Ray is an intriguing target if Arizona decides to rebuild due to his Cy Young caliber 2017 and high strikeout rate. Alex Wood, Rich Hill and Yu Darvish (who I think will rebound in 2019) are other trade targets as I previously suggested. What about trading Miguel Andujar for Carlos Carrasco or Shane Bieber? Would Cleveland consider either trade? I would also keep in mind that Gerrit Cole and Madison Bumgarner are free agents after next season barring unlikely (in my opinion) extensions. My ideal result would be signing Corbin and Morton and acquiring Wood and Hill.
Moving on to the bullpen, New York has arguably the best one in the game and can afford to let both Zach Britton and David Robertson leave as free agents instead of likely overpaying for them to stay. They can then look for bargains for depth. Tyler Wade is worth a shot on the bench and could be a solid and cost-efficient replacement for Neil Walker (another free agent). Clint Frazier should replace the free agent Brett Gardner on the bench or they can sign a veteran for the job on a one year deal, (which might actually be better as unless Andrew McCutchen is willing to take a bargain deal, he shouldn’t be re-signed when he hits free agency due to his decline). In that case, Frazier can directly replace McCutchen in left field.
Moving on to the lineup, I would look to trade Giancarlo Stanton for starting pitching and I think that he might waive his no-trade clause to leave, as long as he goes to a team that he would be willing to play for. His skillset is redundant in New York and doesn’t justify his contract. Taking his contract off the books should also allow a pursuit of Bryce Harper for either left field and first base. I would let Luke Voit and Greg Bird compete for first base or DH based on his signing. If Andujar is traded then Manny Machado is the better target. He should actually be a target anyway to replace Didi Gregorius, who will miss a significant portion of next season. If Harper is signed instead of Machado, or if neither is signed, the large second base market offers plenty of alternatives as Gleyber Torres moves to his natural position: shortstop. A third baseman would then still be needed, but then Josh Donaldson is an intriguing free agent target if he’s willing to take a 1 year deal. That said, I would prefer to stick with Andujar and hope that he can improve defensively unless Machado is signed, in which case I’d try to move him for starting pitching. If Machado is signed, then the Yankees can look for an affordable second base option or just a backup for Tyler Wade. In any case, I prefer Harper to Machado based on skillset and reputation, as well as since he’s a lefty and the Yankees need more lefty bats.
POTENTIAL 2019 PITCHING ROTATION
RHP Luis Severino
LHP Patrick Corbin
RHP Masahiro Tanaka
LHP Rich Hill
LHP Alex Wood
POTENTIAL 2019 OPENING DAY LINEUP
1. SS Gleyber Torres
2. RF Aaron Judge
3. LF Bryce Harper
4. CF Aaron Hicks
5. 1B Luke Voit
6. 3B Miguel Andujar
7. C Gary Sanchez
8. 1B Greg Bird
9. 2B Tyler Wade
The New York Yankees can be contenders again next season, but smart starting pitching acquisitions need to be the priority this offseason. Signing Harper or Machado and trading Stanton are necessary steps as well. This will be an intriguing offseason to watch and it will be interesting to see what New York will do to be better than Boston in 2019.