The New York Yankees have a lot riding on suspect talent going into the 2021 season. General manager Brian Cashman has done his best to solidify the starting pitching rotation, bolster the bullpen, and solve a few consistency issues at specific positions.
However, the risks heâ€™s taken could easily fall short of elevated expectations. For Yankee fans, every year, we expect to reach the World Series, but it has been over a decade of missing the mark. Despite having the highest salary in baseball, the team continues to make the postseason but fails to make the WS.
While you could make the argument that the current roster is improved compared to 2020, one could also come to the conclusion that the risks taken are a bit optimistic.
Three major risks the New York Yankees are taking:
1.) Gary Sanchez
The Yankees are once again rolling with Gary Sanchez at catcher, despite a disappointing 2020 season. Over 49 games, he posted a .147 average with 10 homers and 24 RBIs. He logged a career-high 36% strikeout rate and a negative WAR for the first time. Brian Cashman recently responded to his comments regarding his benching prior to the postseason. Sanchez stated that he was confused and didnâ€™t understand why he was benched, and Cashman was perplexed at his confusion.
Cashman went as far as to say â€” all Sanchez had to do was look at his production and numbers, and he wouldâ€™ve understood the decision. Nonetheless, the Yankees offered him a slight raise over one year to prove his worth. This is Sanchezâ€™s final opportunity to lock down the catcher position long-term, but based on his recent progression, it will be a tall task.
2.) Jameson Taillon/Corey Kluber
Cashman did agree with the sentiment that he took multiple risks this off-season that could end up failing. Investing in Corey Kluber over one year and trading for Jameson Taillon could end up backfiring, as both are coming off significant injuries. Taillon, who previously played for the Pittsburgh Pirates, has only pitched 37.1 innings over the past two years. Kluber, on the other hand, has only pitched 36.2 innings over the past two seasons, barely making an appearance in 2020.
While both players have spoken out about their progress and positive health, nothing is guaranteed. The Yankees have consistently dealt with injuries the past few years, and they could very well deal with them again in 2021. Luckily, they have some solid depth and youth pieces to rely on just in case.
3.) Gleyber Torres at SS
One major question this off-season was Gleyber Torres at shortstop and if the Yankees might elect to trade for Francisco Lindor, a star at the position. Torres has struggled the past two seasons defensively at SS, but that hasnâ€™t deterred the Yankees from starting him there in 2021. While he does make some flashy plays, he struggles with routine ground balls, logging nine errors over 40 games this past season.
He posted a .933 fielding percentage, well below the league average. What he lacks with his defense he makes up for on offense, though, which is why the Yankees are so high on him.
The Yankees are still hopeful he can lock down the position, but if he struggles once again this upcoming season, next yearâ€™s free-agent market will provide plenty of supplements.