New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman struck out this off-season trying to add more talent to the roster. With shortstop being a priority, he executed a blockbuster trade with the Minnesota Twins to acquire Isiah Kiner-Falefa, but he doesn’t exactly offer the slugging services Carlos Correa or Trevor Story provide.
Nonetheless, Cashman was forced to take on $50 million over two years from Josh Donaldson to acquire Kiner-Falefa, the stop-gap he clearly had his eyes on. However, Minnesota leveraged that money into a three-year contract for Carlos Correa, one of the league’s best postseason hitters and elite infielders.
The Yankees still have multiple holes on the roster that could impact them this upcoming season, meaning Cashman still has to make moves if you want to seem to be a legitimate World Series contender in 2022.
Three big risks Brian Cashman is taking with the Yankees’ roster:
1.) Very risky approach at shortstop as he waits for Volpe
Kiner-Falefa is a good defensive player that is still finding his way offensively in the MLB. At this point, he’s nowhere close in comparison to Correa or Story in terms of quality and production. The former Texas ranger hit .271 with only eight homers last season, but he offers decent contact fitting, a category the Yankees need to upgrade.
Cashman has imposed a risky approach at shortstop, especially with Correa taking such a short-term deal with a high AAV. It is clear that management is looking ahead to Anthony Volpe or Oswald Peraza to take a shot at short-stop in the future. Allowing the two prospects to develop properly and reach the majors without any big money roadblocks is the obvious strategy, but Cashman may be sacrificing winning in the short term.
2.) Ignored starting pitching support, so far
On paper, the Yankees have a few exciting names in the starting pitcher rotation, but the reality isn’t as optimistic. Two of their top guns are unreliable and have proven to be liabilities.
- Gerrit Cole
- Jameson Taillon
- Luis Severino
- Jordan Montgomery
- Nestor Cortes
On Sunday, Luis Severino started in a spring training game against the Detroit Tigers. While he touched 95+ miles per hour with his fastball, he allowed four hits and four runs in just two innings, including a two-run blast in the 2nd.
Severino may be best utilized as a multi-inning relief pitcher rather than a bonafide starter at this point in his career. It seems as if the Yankees will give him another opportunity to regain his lost form from years ago, but that does make him a huge risk with concerning downside if he fails to capture his old self.
On the other hand, Taillon suffered torn ligaments in his ankle last year along with a myriad of other issues. Taillon is capable of being a solid starter, but he hasn’t recorded a sub 4.00 ERA since 2018. Injuries have taken their toll, and he’s slowly working his way back to being more efficient. Once again, Cashman finds himself placing bets on injured players.
3.) Catcher is a huge question mark
While trading Gary Sanchez made sense at this point in time after years of inconsistent play, the Yankees haven’t done much to replace him. They feature Kyle Higashioka, a far better defensive catcher, and acquired Ben Rortvedt from Minnesota. This upcoming season, skipper Aaron Boone may deploy a platoon of catchers, but neither are high-end proven MLB hitters.
Losing Sanchez’s slugging power at the bottom of the order will undoubtedly have its consequences, but the team will be far better defensively at the position. Last season, Higashioka posted a .181 average with a 28% strikeout rate over 67 games. Gerrit Cole prefers him behind the plate, which makes him an essential part of the team. In 2021, he allowed 33 stolen bases, throwing out just five. However, he only accrued six passed balls in 519 innings, a category that Sanchez struggled with every year.
Rortvedt, on the other hand, has only one year of MLB experience, featuring in 39 games last year. He had .169 with three homers and seven RBIs, posting a 30% strikeout rate. While he is a solid defensive player with offensive upside, he still has a long way to go before he realizes his potential. Luckily, Rortvedt has former Twins hitting coach Tanner Swanson at its disposal, giving him a bit of familiarity within the Yankees organization.
Cashman is taking an incredibly risky approach at catcher, but it seems they will role with the offensive limitations to guarantee solid defensive play at the position.