New York Yankees Analysis: Four Yankees must prove themselves in 2021 or they may be gone

New York Yankees, Gary Sanchez

This whole article on the New York Yankees goes on the premise that the Yankees will not make any surprising blockbuster moves, such as making moves that include pitching star Trevor Bauer, J.T. Realmuto, or securing Francisco Lindor’s services. With the extreme amount of money the Yankees lost last year and the cloudy future ahead, it is a relatively safe bet they will not be spending big. They are more likely to make minor tweaks to the existing staff.

If this scenario holds true, four New York Yankees will be in the spotlight this upcoming season. If they don’t perform, quite frankly, their days in Yankee pinstripes might be over. Those players are Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres, and Domingo German. I have to remind you that this is very young in the offseason, and many changes could affect these players’ outcomes.

Gary Sanchez:

The  New York Yankees and its fans have really soured on catcher Gary Sanchez even his most ardent supporters. He got so bad last season that he was actually sat down at times toward the end of the season and in most of the postseason, in favor of backup catch Kyle Higashioka. When your backup catcher is trusted more than your starting catcher, that isn’t good.

It appears, regardless of trade rumors, is that Gary Sanchez will be around in some form next season. But, if he doesn’t improve, he could be on some other team for 2022. He must prove this season that he can stay healthy in a 162 games season, improve his defense, and strike out less and become more of a contact hitter that does’ constantly chase pitches out of the zone. It is very likely that in 2021 he will find himself platooned more often with Kyle Higashioka making finding his stride even more difficult. It is good to see him playing winter ball in the Dominican; hopefully, he can improve by doing this.  The bottom line here is that the Yankees can’t have a player that hits .147 taking up room in the lineup.

Aaron Judge:

Aaron Judge is on this list for a far different reason, but it is just as concerning. Judge has immense talent that is unquestioned. The problem with Judge is that that talent is totally wasted if he can’t stay on the field; it is purely potential going unrealized. With Judge due to make some serious money, he will have to have two seasons where he remains relatively healthy to have any chance of a long-term contract. If he doesn’t, he might find himself on the chopping block.

Judge started the year at a torrid rate hitting an amazing nine home runs in just seventeen games and, at one point, a home run in six straight games for the New York Yankees. But then the injury bug that has dogged him throughout his career hit, with a calf strain. Upon his return, he injured it again, allowing him to play in less than half the games in this coronavirus shortened season. When Judge returned, he never hit another home run in the remainder of the regular season, again not allowing him to show his real worth as a Yankee superstar.

Gleyber Torres:

First, Torres most likely has fewer chances of being cut from the New York Yankees due to his young age, talent, and ability to improve. Nevertheless, he must improve. Whether he remains at short or is moved to second base, he must improve his defense. And after a very sub-par season at the plate, he must also show the Yankees he can hit again.

Torres had a far from a stellar season at short. At one point in the season, he had the most errors in baseball. After a season and a half at the position, the Yankees realize that he may not get better and have to find a way to keep the potential Yankee star in the lineup. In 2019 he had the most home runs (38) of any Yankee. He didn’t play all that well at the plate either this past season, but that is likely more of a blip in the young man’s career that he will hopefully recover from. If he doesn’t fix either of these areas, he may not be as lucky as Sanchez, who continued to receive the support that is now lacking, which may not be extended to Torres.

Domingo German:

German is still another situation. German made a horrible decision to slap his wife in public and get suspended for 81 games. Owner and Chief Operating Officer Hal Steinbrenner has already made it clear that he has to show that he is a changed man before he will be allowed to return. To make his way back to the Yankees, German impresses greatly while playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic. He has pitched nine innings, only giving up one run in his first two games while striking out eight.

If indeed the Yankees do take him back and surely need to help solve the Yankees pitching woes, he must perform. In 2019 he was the Yankees winningness pitcher going 18-4. The Yankees certainly could have used that this past season. If he can come close to that, he may be on the team for years to come. He is a free agent after the 2024 season. If he doesn’t perform as expected, the Yankees considering his moral baggage, may not be worth keeping him around.

The bottom line in all of this is that these New York Yankee players must improve in 2021. With Gary Sanchez, it is hard to see how he will improve after three seasons with no improvement. Torres has hope, and with Judge, much of it is out of his control; he must stay on the field. If the majority of these players can’t improve or even get worse, the Yankees may find themselves in a complete rebuild, further distancing them from another World Series win.