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2018 MLB Offseason: New York Yankees Wish List

The 2018 MLB offseason is going to be the Yankees biggest one in a while. So it’s time to dive in and explore all of the splashes they could make this winter.

The 2018 season of Major League Baseball has come and gone. It ended with a nauseating sight to all New York Yankees fans, players, coaches, executives, and so on. Because the Boston Red Sox won the World Series and hoisted their fourth commissioner’s trophy in the last 14 years, cementing themselves as the prime MLB franchise of the modern day era. Furthermore, the Red Sox and their fans poured more salt into the wounds when “Yankees suck” chants broke out in games the Yankees weren’t even playing in, as well as playing “New York, New York” by Frank Sinatra during the locker room celebration, stealing and forever tarnishing the Yankees victory song

So obviously the Yankees are now headed into the offseason with a mission to reclaim their title as best franchise MLB franchise and make their hated rivals pay for…okay fine, rant over. Regardless, the 2018 MLB offseason will be the most important one for the New York Yankees in a while. There are so many different moves the Yankees could make that could take them in so many different directions. Now it’s time for all of us to play general manager and put ourselves in Brian Cashman’s shoes. So here is my Christmas (Wish) list to Santa Claus (Brian Cashman) for what moves the Yankees should make this offseason.

Sign Patrick Corbin and Daniel Murphy

Obviously one of the biggest reasons the 2018 offseason will be huge for not just the Yankees, but the MLB in general, is because of this year’s absolutely loaded free agent class. The 2018 MLB free agent class has been on everyone’s radar for years now, and for good reason. So what do the Yankees do with such a deep free agent class? Who should they go after?

One name that has been linked heavily so far to the Yankees is Patrick Corbin. The left handed starting pitcher from the Arizona Diamondbacks had a career season in his contract year. He pitched to a 3.15 ERA (eighth in NL and 15th in MLB), a 1.05 WHIP ( fourth in NL and eighth in MLB), and threw 246 strikeouts (third in the NL and fifth in the MLB). Furthermore, he only allowed 15 home runs, which is crucial for the Yankees since they play in a home run ballpark. Plus, in an interview with USA Today, the New York state native talked about how great it would be to play for the team he grew up rooting for.

“It would definitely be great to play there,’’ Corbin told USA Today. “I grew up a Yankee fan. My whole family are Yankee fans. My mom, my dad, my grandpa, everybody. Really, every generation of my family has been Yankee fans.”

Signing Patrick Corbin is the most obvious move the Yankees should make. They need to beef up their starting rotation to compete with the likes of Boston and Houston. Patrick Corbin a perfect fit to help them do just that. The left hander has the ability to strike out batters and keep the ball in the ballpark. Both are exactly the tools a pitcher needs to succeed playing in Yankee Stadium. Combine that with his obvious desire to play for the Yankees, and this move couldn’t be more of a slam dunk. If Patrick Corbin isn’t wearing Yankee pinstripes next season, I for one would be shocked.

So other than Corbin, who else should the Yankees pursue? Another name that has been discussed that I am in favor of bringing in is Daniel Murphy. The former New York Mets, Washington Nationals, and Chicago Cubs infielder is a perfect fit. He’s a left handed contact hitter, which the Bronx Bombers need to bring balance to a mostly right handed, power hitting lineup. Defensively, he’s the perfect candidate to fill in for Didi Gregorius as he recovers from Tommy John surgery. Since he plays second and first base, the Yankees can move Gleyber Torres to shortstop and rotate Murphy with Luke Voit, Greg Bird, Ronald Torreyes, Neil Walker, etc.

Who Should the Yankees Bring Back?

Now that we’ve discussed what free agents the Yankees should peruse, it’s time to ask what free agents of theirs should they bring back? New York just recently resigned veteran outfielder Brett Gardner to a one year, $7.5 million deal after initially rejecting his $12.5 million option for 2019. Personally, I am a fan of this move. Brett Gardner did have a down year in 2018. He hit just .236 and eventually essentially got benched for Andrew McCutchen down the stretch of the season. However, he is still a valuable lefty bat, and brings great defense and speeds to the team. Furthermore, he is the longest tenured Yankee on the roster and therefore, the veteran leader of the clubhouse.

Another position player the Yankees should explore bringing back is Neil Walker, if for no other reason than defense. Walker was the most versatile defender on the Yankees last season. He played 42 games at first base, 32 at second base, 25 at third base, and 16 in the outfield. Furthermore, he only made six errors all season long at all those positions. With the Yankees lineup full of defensive liabilites, it’s crucial that they bring Walker back for defense.

Looking at the starting pitching side of things, the only one I’d definitely resign is J.A. Happ. Happ played a major role for the Yankees since they acquired him at the trade deadline. In nine starts, he pitched to a 2.69 ERA. Furthermore, excluding his meltdown in game one of the ALDS, he has pitched well against the Boston Red Sox and in the postseason throughout his career.

This leaves Yankee veteran C.C. Sabathia as the odd man out. As much as it pains me to say this, game four in the ALDS should be Sabathia’s last game as a New York Yankee. While he has resurrected his career with two back to back solid season, he’s 38 years old and could fall off at any moment. Furthermore, with left handed starters J.A. Happ, Patrick Corbin, Justus Sheffield, and Jordan Montgomery all potentially on the table, there’s not much room for Sabathia anymore. Granted, things could change, but as of right now, I would not resign C.C. Sabathia.

Moving onto the bullpen is where things get interesting. Both right hander David Robertson and left hander Zack Britton are free agents. It is in the best interest for the Yankees to retain both of these arms to keep their bullpen arguably the best in the majors. Robertson is one of the only players left on the Yankees from the 2009 World Series championship team. Not only that, but he and Dellin Betances are the only two big righty arms in the bullpen. And while Zack Britton initially struggled with the Yankees, he got better down the stretch and proved he could pitch in the closers role should something happen to Arolidis Chapman

Furthermore, there’s another option the Yankees could explore as an alternative or to simply strengthen their bullpen even further. The Cleveland Indians announced that they will not offer a qualifying offer to left handed reliever Andrew Miller. Miller was with the Yankees from 2015 until the 2016 trade deadline when they shipped him to Cleveland. Miller did have a down year in 2018, pitching to a 4.18 ERA in 34 innings and dealing with multiple injuries. However, there’s no reason to believe he cannot bounce back and still be an effective relief pitcher in the league. Not only that, according to Newsday, Andrew Miller would gladly return to the Yankees if they were interested in bringing him back. If you’re Brian Cashman, a reunion with Andrew Miller has to be on the table.

Stay Away From Manny Machado & Bryce Harper

This one can be considered a hot take, as most Yankee fans I talk too believe otherwise. Regardless, we’re going to have to agree to disagree. The Yankees should not pursue superstar free agents Manny Machado and Bryce Harper. You may be wondering why any Yankees fan would not want his team to pursue the two biggest free agents of this years class? While I’m not denying both players talents, there are still multiple reasons why the Yankees are better off spending their money elsewhere.

Starting off with the one with the most links to the Yankees lately, Manny Machado. In theory, bringing Machado on board to play shortstop with Didi out sounds like a good idea. However, looking deeper into it, signing Manny Machado would be, in my opinion, one of the worst moves the Yankees could make this offseason. All he would do is add another star right handed bat to the lineup, which is something the Yankees already have plenty off.

Above all, Machado made headlines during the playoffs for all the wrong reasons. He showed lack of hustle multiple times then backed it up by saying he wasn’t going to be Johnny Hustle. Furthermore he spiked Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Jesus Aguilar in game four of the NLCS, sparking a bench clearing brawl. He then responded by spiking Boston Red Sox first baseman Steve Pierce in game four of the World Series.

The worst part about this is Machado isn’t even trying to hide these actions. He’s making it perfectly clear to everyone who he is and still expects to get paid. If you’re the Yankees, how bad of a message would it send to your young players like Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar if you rewarded this type of play by paying Machado and bringing him into your clubhouse? Lastly, would you believe me if I told you Manny Machado never hit for .300 or 40 home runs in a season? You’re going to make that player with that type of character one of the highest paid players in baseball when he’s far from a need?

Moving on to the guy I am more open to potentially bringing on, Bryce Harper. Unlike Machado, I am a fan of Harper and think he would be a far better fit with the Yankees. A star left handed bat like him would be perfect for Yankee Stadium with that short porch in right field. Furthermore, it is reported that Bryce Harper is willing to play first base, a position the Yankees don’t have a certain future at. I would not be nearly as upset at a Bryce Harper signing as I would be a Manny Machado signing.

However, a problem with signing Harper is the money he would command. According to reports, the bidding for Bryce Harper would start at 10 years $350 million. If Hal Steinbrunner wants to stick to his guns on building a championship team while remaining under the luxury tax, then that alone pretty much takes both Harper and Machado out of the equation. The Yankees still owe Giancarlo Stanton $270 million over the next decade. Not only that, but eventually they’re going to have to pay their young stars like Aaron Judge, Luis Severino, Gary Sanchez, Gleyber Torres, Miguel Andujar, etc. We know the Yankees have money, but do they have that much money? Bottom line, star-power in the lineup is far from a need for the Yankees. So long story short, hard pass on Manny Machado. Thanks, but no thanks on Bryce Harper.

Trade For Corey Kluber

One thing all of us can agree on here in Yankee land is that the one piece the Yankees are missing is a true, top end of the rotation ace to pair with Luis Severino. They say pitching wins chamionships and that saying has a lot of truth to it. Both the Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros won championships with dominant rotations. While a potential signing of Patrick Corbin would be a huge boost for the Yankees, they would still need one more true ace to push them over the top.

However, that ace has eluded the Yankees for quite some time. They made heavy pushes for Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander, and Chris Sale, but struck out on all three of them. Also, there was no ace available at the 2018 trade deadline. The Mets and the Giants made it perfectly clear they were not trading Jacob DeGrom and Madison Bumgarner.

Well then ladies and gentleman, if you haven’t heard the latest news, luck might finally bounce the Yankees way. The Cleveland Indians have reportedly decided to make two time AL Cy Young award winner Corey Kluber available. Kluber is coming off a fine season. In 2018 he pitched to a 2.89 ERA (fifth in the AL and 11th in the MLB) and a 0.99 WHIP (third in the AL and sixth in the MLB). He was one of only seven pitchers to throw for two complete games, including a shutout. To sweeten the deal, he controllable over the next three seasons.

There’s no denying Kluber’s status as one of MLBs best aces. With Cleveland looking to shed salary, and New York looking for that ace, this trade makes too much sense. And if you’re Brian Cashman, you cannot afford to miss out on this potential blockbuster trade. In the past, Cashman would miss out on aces like Cole and Sale because he wasn’t willing to part with his top prospects. He has preached multiple times that he doesn’t want to win a championship at the expense of championships.

While I respect Cashman’s mentality in wanting to create a dynasty and not undervaluing his prospects, here’s the reality. In order to think about championships, you have to win one first. The Yankees weren’t expected to win a championship back in 2017 when Cashman first said this. Now with the most recent early exit in the playoffs to your most hated rivals, who went on to win the World Series, successful regular seasons and deep postseason runs don’t mean anything. All that matters now is winning #28. If the Yankees fail to do so again in 2019, some heads are going to roll in the Bronx. Which is why the Yankees need to go all in on the near future. Acquiring an ace like Corey Kluber is just the move they need to do just that.

This is where we have to discuss what package it would take to make this trade happen. And the first question we need to ask is this. Can the Yankees acquire Kluber without giving up rookie phenoms Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar? On one hand, if you’re Cleveland, you’re going to be asking for the best return possible for you’re best pitcher. When the Indians sit down with the Yankees to discuss this trade, they will be asking about those two names. If you’re the Yankees, one of them has to at the very least be on the table.

On the other hand, we cannot discredit how deep the rest of the Yankees roster and farm system is. They have many tradable pieces like Sonny Gray, Jordan Montgomery, Clint Frazier, Greg Bird, Luke Voit, Justus Sheffield, Estevan Florial, and Chance Adams. And that’s not even taking into consideration all of the rest of the talent in the minors. So I wouldn’t call it a stretch for the Yankees to be able to put together the best package for Kluber without giving up Torres or Andujar. Brian Cashman has proven that he gets back equal, if not more value in trades like this. Regardless, in order to acquire Kluber, the Yankees will have to give up some things that are going to sting. However, it’s ultimately a move they have to make to maximize their chances of winning it all in 2019.

Whatever the case may be, the 2018 offseason is going to be the Yankees biggest one in a while. They’re heading into a season that could be considered make or break for them. If the Yankees aren’t celebrating #28 at this time next year, things will not look good for them. So the Yankees need to make some splashes to set themselves up for a World Series run in 2019. And with so many options available to them, it’s going to be one exciting winter in the Bronx.

Adam Grassani
Twitter

Adam Grassani

New York & New Jersey Sports Staff Writer,
New Jersey Jackals Beat Writer
Adam Grassani
Twitter

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