Another year, another World Series run for the New York Yankees. The organization has seen too many offseasons just like this one that requires a special touch to improve the team enough to reach the ultimate goal. But, regardless of how many moves have been made, there are various positions that carry question marks into spring training. Let’s take a look at what we should key an eye on:
1. The First Base Competition
The most intriguing story for the Yankees this spring is who will play first base. Luke Voit enters as the favorite competing against Greg Bird.
The favorite to open the spring is Voit. He finished last season with a slash line of .333/.405/.689 in 39 games with the Yankees last season. He was a major improvement over Bird statistically.
Bird struggled with a slash line of .199/.286/.386 over 82 games. He struggled with injuries his entire career. What saves him is he is a left-handed hitter in a lineup full of right-handed hitters.
2. The Middle Infield Alignment
An elbow injury to Didi Gregorius opened up a hole at SS. They signed Troy Tulowitzki to play SS and DJ LeMahieu as a utility infielder.
Tulowitzki will open the season as the starting SS barring injury. Gleyber Torres will also see time at short.
Torres will open the season as the starting second baseman. He finished last season with a slash line of .271/.340/.480 with 24 home runs and 77 RBI.
The Yankees signed 2nd baseman DJ Lemahieu to a two year this winter to play all over the infield. He brings great defense, and a quality bat to the lineup.
3. The crowded outfield:
The Yankees have six outfielders currently on their 40 man roster. Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks, Brett Gardner, and Giancarlo Stanton are guaranteed roster spots. Jacoby Ellsbury and Clint Frazier will battle for a bench spot.
Ellsbury missed the entire 2018 season with various injuries. The Yankees can’t and won’t rely on him to be healthy. Frazier also missed the 2018 season with post-concussion symptoms
If everyone is healthy Ellsbury is guaranteed a bench spot. He’s the veteran, and his enormous contract makes him impossible to be traded.
Clint Frazier will most likely begin the season with the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre Railriders. He’s proven everything he needs to prove in the minors. He will get his chance when the inevitable injury happens. The key for him is hoping the concussion issues are over.
4. Are the Yankees done spending money?
There’s a narrative among some of the fanbase that the Yankees have been “cheap” this winter. It’s a narrative that owner Hal Steinbrenner came out and stated that he strongly disagrees. He is correct in his defense of the team’s moves. As of now, the team’s payroll is over $200 million.
The Yankees front office is always looking to improve. There are approximately 100 free agents on the market with spring training starting this week. If a move makes sense to them they will make it.
5. The Stacked Bullpen
The 2019 Yankees bullpen on paper is as good as any bullpen in MLB history. Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances, Chad Green, and Jonathan Holder return from last season. Added to the bullpen the Yankees re-signed Zack Britton as a free agent this winter.
The final addition to the bullpen is Adam Ottavino. He already has made history being the first Yankee to wear jersey number 0. The Bronx native pitched last season for the Colorado Rockies in the hitter-friendly Coors Field. His dominant slider and fastball combination play well in any ballpark