Yankees
AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

The Yankees once again squandered a year where they boasted enough talent to be the last team standing. They could not muster enough consistency to make it past Tampa Bay in the division or the post season.

“We’re proud of the fact that we’ve been in position to take a shot,” general manager Brian Cashman said. “We had opportunities that, if we took advantage, and maybe the game played out in a different way … you play all those different games. That’s just the way the October postseason works.”

Cashman and manager Aaron Boone believed that the 2020 Yankees were comprised of the right pieces to secure the 28th World Series championship in franchise history, both using the word “cruel” to describe the experience of falling short. The mission is to avoid the same fate in 2021.

Middle Infield

DJ LeMahieu is a two-time batting champion and a perennial Gold Glove Award candidate at second base, but the Yankees never made any progress on a contract extension, so the 32-year-old star is now a free agent.

LeMahieu has said that he hopes to remain in New York, he also once said the same about the Rockies, who allowed him to reach free agency. LeMahieu declined the $18.9 million qualifying offer in search of a multiyear deal, potentially in the ballpark of three to four years at $20 million per season.

Another interesting option would be to move Gleyber Torres back to 2nd base and pursue a new shortstop (the Indians’ Francisco Lindor?)

Catcher

This is more of a mystery than a need. The Yankees believed Gary Sánchez would be their starting catcher for the foreseeable future. Even in September, Cashman stated that Sánchez was the team’s best catching option on both sides of the ball. But come October, Kyle Higashioka caught five of the seven postseason games.

Sanchez had an abysmal 2020 offensive line, when he batted .147 with 10 homers and a staggering 69 OPS+. But since 2017, when Sánchez won a Silver Slugger Award by belting 33 homers with 90 RBIs, he has compiled a .200/.296/.453 line over 244 games — a very league-average 99 OPS+. So is the Yanks’ starting catcher Sánchez, Higashioka or someone else?

Yankees Starting Pitching

Gerrit Cole atop the rotation is a terrific start, but for the first time in seven years, the Yanks’ starting five does not include Masahiro Tanaka. The best available free-agent pitcher is Trevor Bauer, who posted a 1.73 ERA in 10 starts for the Reds this season and the Yankees do tend to make big free agent signings each year.

With James Paxton and J.A. Happ also free agents, the Yanks’ rotation is prime for upgrades. At present, it projects to feature Jordan Montgomery, Deivi García, Michael King, and Domingo Germán. Luis Severino is expected to return in June or July after missing all of 2020 following Tommy John surgery performed in February.

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