The New York Yankees have spent an extraordinary amount of capital improving their outfield this upcoming season, but that has left some other positions a bit weak.
Notably, general manager Brian Cashman has been trying to upgrade the starting rotation significantly, but after missing out on Yoshinobu Yamamoto, he settled for Marcus Stroman on a two-year, $37 million deal. The difference between those two players is astronomical, but at the very least, Stroman has a decade’s worth of experience in the MLB and has pitched over 100 innings for seven straight active seasons.
However, the Yankees learned something from 2023: If a perfect storm of inconsistencies and injuries hit, surviving it is nearly impossible. The Yankees will need a bit of luck, mainly since they rely heavily on veteran players to elevate their game.
Three Positions Where the Yankees Are Taking Risks:
1.) Starting Rotation
As mentioned, the Yankees didn’t do enough to support their starting rotation, trading away Michael King and signing Stroman.
They are relying on a number of pitchers to bounce back from injury-riddled campaigns. Most notably, Carlos Rodon is heading into the second year of a six-year, $162 million deal.
Now 31 years old, it seems as if Rodon has lost a bit of weight, which should hopefully promote better health and longevity. He tossed only 64.1 innings last season, hosting a 6.85 ERA, watching his strikeouts per nine dip below double digits, and finishing with a 60.5% left-on-base rate, one of the lowest metrics in his career.
Ultimately, the season hangs on Rodon to figure things out and Nestor Cortes to make a full recovery from a left rotator cuff strain that shut him down prematurely last season. Cashman could always target the summer trade deadline to improve the unit, but the Yankees are certainly taking a massive risk on several players who failed to carry their weight.
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2.) Third Base
On paper, the third base position shouldn’t be that much of a problem with DJ LeMahieu featuring, but this is his first year earning the starting job.
LeMahieu has traditionally been a utility man, but the Yankees saw enough to trust him defensively on the hot corner. Last season, he played 592.2 innings, enjoying a .994 fielding percentage with three defensive runs saved and three outs above average. He can be trusted defensively, but he was inconsistent in the batter’s box last season during the first half of the year.
LeMahieu picked things up significantly after the All-Star break, hitting an impressive .273/.377/.432. If LeMahieu was forced to miss any time, the Yankees would have to pivot to Oswald Peraza, who is extremely unproven as an offensive piece but is Gold Glove quality.
Most other individual positions are strong to a degree, but the Yankees need a huge bounceback from Giancarlo Stanton, who will inevitably take over the designated hitter role once again.
Now 34 years old, Stanton has lost a bit of weight this off-season and is coming off two consecutive bad years. In fact, he will likely try to forget his 2023 season, hitting .191/.275/.420. He still managed 24 homers with 60 RBIs, but this was the first time Stanton was considered a below-average hitter with 89 wRC+.
Similar to Rodon, Stanton holds the keys to the offense, and his return to stardom would inevitably take the Yankees to another level. Having Aaron Judge, Juan Soto and Stanton at the top of their game would be too much for any opposing team to manage, and that’s what the front office is hoping.