The New York Yankees finished tied with the Boston Red Sox for second place in the American League East division last year, behind the Tampa Bay Rays and just one game ahead of the Toronto Blue Jays.
Boston then knocked the Yankees out of the playoffs with a convincing win in the Wild Card game at Fenway Park. The AL East is not what it used to be, during the days in which the Yanks easily dominated: New York could very well be the third or fourth-best team of the lot.
The Toronto Blue Jays have brought Matt Chapman, Kevin Gausman, Yusei Kikuchi, and extended Jose Berrios in a very successful offseason. The Red Sox signed shortstop Trevor Story, while the Rays brought in former Yankees pitcher Corey Kluber and extended Wander Franco.
The Yankees traded for Josh Donaldson, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, and catcher Ben Rortvedt, but didn’t move the needle much in the pitching side and traded away their starting catcher. They aren’t worse than 2021, but are they better? Have they done enough to keep up as the rest of the division improved?
The Yankees are in a tough spot
Manager Aaron Boone certainly “hopes” the Yankees can secure a spot in the postseason, or at least that’s what he implied in a recent interview.
“Aaron Boone on the belief his Yanks aren’t favorites in AL East while acknowledging rivals’ improvements: ‘I feel like we have a chance to be great … Our hope and expectation is to be at the top of the heap come season’s end, and that’s what we’re working toward,” he said on MLB Network, according to insider Jon Heyman.
The Yankees are a good baseball team, but there is a case to be made that both the Rays and Jays are slightly better, and they have a comparable roster to the Red Sox. That could be enough to make the playoffs thanks to MLB’s new expanded format, but it’s not a guarantee.
The Yankees still have time to trade for a pitcher to fortify their rotation and give it more depth, which seems necessary. The Oakland Athletics are selling Sean Manaea and Frankie Montas, though New York so far hasn’t been willing to meet their price.
That has been a constant in trade negotiations: the Yankees aren’t in a good spot because they need talent, but don’t want to surrender their prospects.
Is there time for the Yankees to improve? Bringing in one of the A’s pitchers could be a nice step forward. But even Boone doesn’t sound fully convinced the Yanks are a force in the East.