Yankees still have some money to spend
According to who you want to believe, the New York Yankees have between $6 and $8 million left in the purse while still staying below the luxury tax threshold. The question is will the Yankees spend it, or will they save it for later in the season when they have a better handle on their needs to get to the postseason?
One obvious move they could make before spring training is bringing back Yankee fan-favorite Brett Gardner for outfield backup and a lefty bat in the lineup. No matter what the Yankees say, they can’t be happy with the possibility of injuries in the outfield. If history says anything, there likely will be some. Neither Aaron Judge nor Aaron Hicks has been able to stay on the field during the last two years, and they have already given up on Giancarlo Stanton in the outfield.
Clint Frazier in left field fairs a bit better; his injuries have not been related to his body breaking down. Having another more than capable and durable arm out there makes sense. Although the Yankees have some lefty hitters on the bench, none are the constant quality of Gardner. The Yankees would probably land Gardner back in the Bronx $2.5 to $3.5 million for a year or maybe even less on a two or three-year contract. Gardner has made it clear that he wants to retire as a New York Yankee.
I also feel that before spring training Yankee general manager will come up with another surprising arm to bolster the bullpen. The Yankees have added some arms that can eat up some innings early, but no reliable arms of the quality of Tommy Kahnle that is now with the Los Angels Dodgers. Right now, the bullpen is late innings heavy. With the recent acquisition of Darren O’Day, Zack Britton, and Aroldis Chapman, any of them could close games for the Yankees.
Yankee farm system in flux
This will be an interesting year for the New York Yankees farm system as they try to condense two teams into the remaining teams after the minor league consolidation. With the realignment, the Yankees had to close down the Pulaski Yankees and the Staten Island Yankees. The Yankees now have to merge all those players into the remaining teams. Add to that; they have moved the Charleston River Dogs and the Trenton Thunder to new locations.
The Yankee’s recent moves to send one high-profile prospect and three lesser ones to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the trade deal for the new Yankee starter Jameson Taillon allows four other prospects to move up the ladder and closer to Yankee Stadium. One of them is pitcher Glen Otto who was a closer for Rice University. Otto comes armed with a plus fastball and a nasty 12-6 curveball. He will likely get some starts with Double-A Somerset. If Otto can improve his control, he will be on his way.
Brooks Kriske, who Yankees fans are likely familiar with based on his 2020 time with the big league club, is moving up. Outfielder Josh Stowers was traded to the Yankees as part of the Sonny Gray deal. Stowers has slightly above average speed and put up a strong .273/.386/.400 line in Low-A Charleston while playing right field. And finally, Jake Sanford also joined the Yankees’ list of prospects with the recent moves. Sanford was the Yankees’ third-round draft pick in 2019. Sanford has immense power from the left side of the plate but is still considered a work in progress by many evaluators.
Who won in the Ottavino trade?
Fans of both the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox were amazed by Ottavino coming to the Red Sox. First of all, it’s only the second time this century that the two teams have been involved in a trade. Although it was purely a salary dump for the Yankees, if Ottavino can regain his previous form, the Yankees could have to face him 19 times in the upcoming season. From that aspect, the Yankees could be sorry they made the trade.
From the Yankee’s perspective, they found $9 million to spend on their other needs. Probably the biggest surprise is that they got the Red Sox to absorb almost all of his salary. That was a big win for the Yankees. In the trade, the Yankees also sent a diamond in the rough with Frank German, a righty pitcher. If either of these pitchers ravages the Yankees’ right-hand heavy lineup, it could be considered a big loss for the Yankees, but if it doesn’t pan out that way, the Red Sox could be the big losers in this trade. Time will tell, but it gave the Yankees the short-term gain they have put to good use.
Who will anchor the starting rotation?
With the start of spring training just two weeks away, the New YorkYankees’ starting rotation has pretty well firmed up. Of course, the Yankee ace Gerrit Cole will be on the mound for the beginning of the regular season, when the Yankees face the Toronto Blue Jays on April 1. He will be followed by dual Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber, after him will be Jameson Taillon followed by Jordan Montgomery.
The big question or problem is who will fill out that last spot in the rotation. Actually, it’s a pretty good problem to have. The Yankees can choose between Domingo German, Deivi Garcia, or even Clarke Schmidt. My guess is that it will at least Initially be Domingo German. If either German or Montgomery falter we will again see Deivi Garcia on the mound at Yankee Stadium. If any become injured, the Yankees still have Schmidt, Loaisiga, and later in the season, Luis Severino’s return.
How all of these pitchers pitch during spring training could alter this rotation, and of course, there is always the possibility of an injury during training camp. The Yankees seem sure that their pitching depth can handle what is thrown at them.