Friday, October 6, 2023

Impatiently Waiting for the Offseason Rebuild...


DJ LeMahieu & Aaron Judge (Photo Credit: Chris Young)

I miss the words, “The Yankees”…

The Major League Playoff Season is exciting for many fans, particularly those in Atlanta, Dallas/Fort Worth, Minneapolis, Baltimore, Phoenix, and Philadelphia. The fans in Houston and Los Angeles are just waiting for the later rounds before they get excited since they do this every year. Meanwhile, the playoffs are a roadblock for the improvement of baseball’s greatest team, the New York Yankees. No step toward the betterment of the Pinstriped Product will happen until the Atlanta Braves walk off the field with the World Series Championship.

I am ready for changes.

Other teams have already jumpstarted their offseason game plans. The New York Mets, proving they might no longer be the New York Mess, quickly made the decision to jettison respected, experienced manager Buck Showalter after hiring David Stearns as the team’s new President of Baseball Operations.  I kept wondering when GM Billy Eppler would get his walking papers, so it was no surprise when he stepped down this week. Credit Eppler. He may not be a great general manager, but he does know how to read writing on the wall. There was a time I thought the Yankees should have promoted Eppler to GM when he was Brian Cashman’s assistant general manager, but Eppler proved me wrong.  Sometimes the best moves are the moves never made although I would never apply that to my desire to see Cashman replaced. 

I expect the Mets to be better in 2024 which of course places the pressure on the Yankees to improve, or at least it should.  I have no desire to see Buck Showalter as the Yankees manager. I saw many of those posts on social media after Showalter announced his departure from the Mets. Like Joe Girardi, we have been there, and done that, and I have no wish to travel down either of those roads again. I want to see Buck return to studio work for the YES Network. He offers great insight, and he is a valuable resource. The Yankees need a stronger bench coach, but I wonder if Buck would be interested in that type of role.

In the last couple of days, I have seen posts that say the Yankees expect Aaron Boone to be “tougher” in 2024. Boone is who he is. He is not going to change. If he starts acting like Mister Tough Guy in the clubhouse, players are just going to laugh at him. When I saw that the Cleveland Guardians were interested in talking with Bench Coach Carlos Mendoza about their vacant managerial seat (due to Terry Francona’s retirement), I was excited and hopeful that he would get the job. Mendy is a trusted coach who has the respect of the players, but the Yankees can do so much better for the vital bench coach role.  I keep saying it, but Boone needs someone who is not afraid to question him, to challenge him. Boone may be the decision-maker, but he needs to make better decisions. A strong bench coach can improve him if Boone fully commits to the chosen individual. Boone seems like a fair, open-minded guy. I am sure he wants to improve. All of us like to be surrounded by people who make us better. Boone is no different.    

Aaron Boone (Photo Credit: Gene J Puskar/AP)

I have accepted that Aaron Boone will be the Yankees manager in 2024. There are no indications that he will be fired. I blame most, if not all, of last season’s disaster (technically, it is still this season, but I have already moved on) on Brian Cashman and the Front Office. The roster construction was horrific, and they failed to adapt to the elimination of the shift.  Everything that went wrong, outside of the players injuring themselves, can be traced to the Front Office. If the Yankees roll out the same bodies in the same front-office positions in 2024, I fully expect more of the same disappointing results. If the Yankees cannot improve, they should expect to be a doormat for the Orioles for the next few years. 

Brian Cashman is not going to be fired either although I think it is a mistake. Inevitably, there is nothing we can do about it short of not buying tickets and merchandise. We may be frustrated but we are still Yankee fans, and we will support our team. Brian Cashman is the Yankees' General Manager until he is not.

So, for now, we will wait. We hope the disastrous results of the 2023 season are weighing heavily on Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner’s mind, and it will spur him to act. Hal will never have his father’s passion for the Yankees' success. Their definitions of success are vastly different. Yet, even Hal’s conservative, analytical mind can recognize success on the field drives the profits off it. Give the Braves their damn trophy so that we can get started on the offseason rebuild.

The Gang of 17

MLB Trade Rumors posted projected arbitration salaries for 2024 for all MLB teams today. The MLBTR projections were created by Matt Swartz.  The MLBTR post is titled Projected Arbitration Salaries For 2024.  

The Yankees have 17 arbitration-eligible players. Here are the projections with names and estimated salaries for 2024. Further information about service time and various implications can be found in the MLBTR post.

 Lou Trivino, $4.1 million

Gleyber Torres, $15.3 million

Clay Holmes, $6.0 million

Jonathan Loaisiga, $2.5 million

Kyle Higashioka, $2.3 million

Franchy Cordero, $1.6 million

Domingo German, $4.4 million

Nestor Cortes, Jr, $3.9 million

Jose Trevino, $2.7 million

Matt Bowman, $1.0 million

Michael King, $2.6 million

Ryan Weber, $990K

Billy McKinney, $1.2 million

Jake Bauers, $1.7 million

Jimmy Cordero, $900K

Clarke Schmidt, $2.6 million

Albert Abreu, $900K

I look at this list and see a whole lot of future ex-Yankees. Realistically, the only players who should return in 2024, barring any trades, are Gleyber Torres, Clay Holmes, Jonathan Loaisiga, Nestor Cortes, Jose Trevino, Michael King, and Clarke Schmidt. You can make an argument against Loaisiga based on his injury history. Otherwise, I have no trouble moving on from the other players. Kyle Higashioka may be the longest-tenured Yankee, but it is a numbers game, and the future has arrived for Austin Wells. Brian Cashman will always be dumpster diving and I am sure he will have new fringe players in camp on non-roster invitations next Spring. Players equal to or better than the fringe players above can be found.

I have not been in favor of trading Gleyber Torres, however, an expected salary of $15.3 million does give one reason to ponder. It seems clear Torres is not in the Yankees’ long-term plans. They would be fine with Anthony Volpe at second base next year, with Oswald Peraza and his better arm taking shortstop. I expect the Yankees to make up for the offense in other areas. Or at least, I hope. If the Yankees can use Torres as a trade chip to help improve the roster, go for it. I was tired of how much Josh Donaldson’s season salary prevented the Yankees from making smart moves. Torres offers production, which Donaldson did not, but building a team is about putting your dollars in the right places. The Yankees are deep in middle infield talent in the minor league system, and the high dollars for Torres are better used in building a diverse, adaptable, resilient roster capable of sustained success.  We have seen what happens when holes in the roster are left unattended. 

Clarke Schmidt did exactly what I had hoped he would do this season. He learned, he adjusted, and he got better. Granted, he may have positioned himself as trade bait, especially with the terrific starting performances by Michael King late in the season, but he was a joy to watch after a frustrating start. I would like to see Schmidt’s return unless his departure means the arrival of a guy like Juan Soto.  Any deal involving Schmidt needs to be a significant acquisition, otherwise, I would rather see the Yankees hang onto him. There should be no Jordan Montgomery for Harrison Bader type of trades for Schmidt.


Clarke Schmidt (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

I included Holmes as a guy to keep although I would prefer to see him replaced as the team’s closer. He is a good reliever, just not the guy I want at the back end of games. Nestor Cortes has much to prove next year. He needs to show that 2022 was not an aberration and, just as importantly, he can stay healthy. 

I am anxious for the offseason to start. The next few weeks are going to be a sludge. When the final out of the World Series is recorded, we can turn the page on 2023 and go all-in for 2024. Braves, go ahead and run the table. Just get this thing over. The Yankees have work to do.

As always, Go Yankees!