Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has made a number of moves this off-season to bolster the roster. Retaining Aaron Judge on a nine-year, $362 million deal was the headliner, but injecting Carlos Rodon into the rotation gives the Yankees one of the best units in the game.
Aside from Judge and Rodon locking themselves into long-term deals with the Bombers, Cashman hasn’t added many other pieces, aside from Tommy Kahnle, to help their bullpen.
Cashman still needs to find a starting left-fielder and could offload a few bigger contracts to help create salary space moving forward. Obviously, Josh Donaldson and Aaron Hicks are prime suspects to be traded, but they are a hard sell, given the financial implications and baggage that comes along.
Nonetheless, the Yankees still need to improve several positions before the 2023 season begins, but relying on youth is a strategy that we believe will be prevalent next season.
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Ranking the Yankees’ top three weaknesses as we enter 2023:
1.) Left field
Cashman has watched mostly all the top left-field free agents sign with different teams. The last remaining player with legitimate upside is Michael Conforto, but the Yankees haven’t been too intrigued. The more likely scenario is that Cashman looks to acquire a new player via trade, whether that be Max Kepler from the Minnesota Twins or even Bryan Reynolds from Pittsburgh.
Trusting Aaron Hicks to lock down the position is extremely optimistic, considering he was benched multiple times last year. He hit .216 with a 33% on-base rate, eight homers, and 40 RBIs across 130 games. The Yankees are better off moving on from his contract, even paying a portion of it just to get him off the books and open up a roster spot for another player.
It is possible we see Oswaldo Cabrera feature in left field significantly next season if the Yankees don’t bring in a proven starter, but it seems they would prefer to utilize him as a super utility option.
Currently, the Yankees have Josh Donaldson penciled in as their starting third baseman but earning $21 million after such a disappointing offensive season certainly justified being moved.
Donaldson hit .222 with a 30.8% on-base rate, 15 homers, and 62 RBIs last year, but did put together a stellar defensive campaign.
The team also has Isiah Kiner-Falefa and DJ LeMahieu capable of playing on the hot corner, so it will be interesting to see how they strategize at that position. Otherwise, 3B remains a big question going into the new year and one that should be labeled as a weakness until we decipher the plan.
The only reason shortstop can be considered a concern is that we don’t know what Oswald Peraza will bring next year. At 22 years old, Peraza is projected to hit .249 with a 30.8% on-base rate, including eight homers and 31 RBIs, according to his Steamer expectations.
In fact, Peraza is only projected to play 66 games, but most believe he will be the starting shortstop on opening day. After the IKF experiment failed miserably, shortstop is wide-open for the taking, making Peraza the perfect fit.
It is possible that Anthony Volpe eventually takes over, but for the time being, Oswald is further along in his development and played 18 games last year, including a few playoff appearances against the Houston Astros in the ALCS.
Despite our love for Jose Treviño, he’s not much of an offensive weapon. He hit .248 last season with a 28.3% on-base rate, 11 homers, and 43 RBIs. He posted a career-high 91 wRC+, securing an elite defensive season. However, the Yankees put him in the No. 9 spot for a reason and coming off his best season as a professional in the batter’s box, natural regression is likely.
Given Treviño’s limitations, he could end up being a weakness in some respects next year, but plenty of teams sacrifice offense at the catcher position.