Monday, November 2, 2015

Yankees' roster requires more demolition before building new foundation

The New York Yankees have been planning their offseason agenda since being eliminated from the 2015 postseason that lasted all of one game. But, with the Kansas City Royals’ World Series championship run all wrapped up, the Yanks’ hot stove has officially been lit. For the Yankees, any solidifying of their foundation still requires some demolition.

There are very few vacancies coming for the Yankees; Chris Capuano, Stephen Drew and Chris Young are free agents, while the Yankees have club options on Brendan Ryan (he also has a player option) and Andrew Bailey. Essentially, the Yankees have to decide on their second baseman for 2016 and beyond, whether or not to improve their rotation and/or bullpen and find a right-handed bat to complement a lefty-heavy offense.

There are a number of high-priced players out there who would certainly improve the Yankees, but under the new methodology of running the team and without costly expiring contracts to provide financial relief, the Yanks might not be willing to take on more payroll this offseason. If the Yankees dive into the free-agent market expect them to target the middle-tier and look to versatile depth pieces.

The Yankees might play the offseason with a similar flair to last year when they traded major league players for other major league players. It worked out well with the additions of Nathan Eovaldi and Didi Gregorius, but those types of deals are not easy to come by, let alone be successful. The Yankees do have a surplus of minor leaguers with which to deal from as well, making their options numerous. The players the Yankees would be willing to trade might not bring back the top players in the game, but the team’s available prospects, especially if packaged, can surely demand players who would provide ample and immediate impacts.

The Yankees might be content to allow Dustin Ackley and Rob Refsnyder to fight for the second base job, or employ them in a strict platoon. The club could stick with the current rotation and hope that they’ll stay healthy enough to add a few more wins in 2016. Likewise, the Yanks might not venture into the trade or free-agent market to bolster their bullpen, choosing to utilize the young arms already in the system, some of whom proved they could perform more than adequately in their roles. Finally, the Yankees might stick with players like Young and Ryan to round out their roster instead of selecting a player they do not know for a bit role.

Despite the unquestionable option to do so, I do not believe the Yankees can stand pat in all of these areas. Minimally, I believe they should choose to upgrade in at least one area, and then try to rely on the depth of the system to hold them over in the others. Completely doubling-down on a roster that might have benefited from some overachievers in Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, could be a mistake.

The Yankees should aim to add at least five wins to their total for 2016, as the AL East has a chance to once again become the powerhouse division in the league. Toronto has a solid base, Boston is deep and should bounce back, while Baltimore and Tampa will do enough to remain competitive.

The Yankees will not be able to add the aforementioned number of wins as conceived and unfortunately they might not be able to change all that much because of the current and unmovable commitments to Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury, Rodriguez, CC Sabathia and Teixeira. Add in Brian McCann, Masahiro Tanaka, Brett Gardner, Chase Headley and Andrew Miller and the Yanks sit at close to $180 million in salaries for just 10 players.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has his work cut out for him and will need to be as creative as he was last offseason. Cashman cannot add substantial payroll without subtraction of the like. The club’s anticipated $200 million-plus payroll should portend to success on the field, but when a good deal of that cash is headed to the pockets of so many question marks, any comfort or certainty vanishes.

The advice here is not to expect a high-priced addition this offseason unaccompanied by a major subtraction move. More likely, the Yankees will nibble around the free-agent and trade market with the intent to incrementally improve the club.

Not until 2017, and maybe again in 2018 do I see the Yankees shelling out big checks, and that’s not a bad thing with the influx of youthful talent in the system. The Yankees seem committed to balancing their roster by taking from their farm system and combining those players with wise financial investments for experienced talent on the better side of their prime. Better yet, maybe, just maybe, the Yanks will be at a juncture in the next couple of years to utilize their financial might to secure long-term contracts with some of the younger players they’ve developed or nabbed via trade.

Building a foundation is a proven methodology. Look at the Royals. Ask the Mets. Simply remember the Yankees of the dynasty years. It takes time, and it takes some demolition before re-pouring the cement and letting it dry. It's true the Yankees are not quite ready to put up the first story, but the blueprint is there.

Yankees logo courtesy of SportsLogos.net.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance baseball writer. Besides his work here, Christopher is a featured Yankees writer for SNY.tv. His baseball commentary has also been published on Yahoo Sports and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In. He is a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and the BYB Hub.



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