Ranking the Yankees’ top needs during the 2021 offseason

Alexander Wilson
trevor bauer, New York Yankees
Sep 23, 2020; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Trevor Bauer (27) throws against the Milwaukee Brewers during the first inning at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees struggled during an abbreviated 2020 season, especially with their depth. In 2019, manager Aaron Boone willed his team to 103 wins, despite losing some of his best players for large chunks of the campaign (Aaron Judge/Giancarlo Stanton).

A mercurial offense helped the Yankees to the postseason this year, but inconsistencies with their pitching and bullpen put them in holes frequently. Not to mention their bats going silent for long stretches and then activating for no apparent reason. This occurred in the ALDS against the Tampa Bay Rays after hitting double digits in their first game and then going silent for the following three.

The Yankees ultimately need more consistency if they want to reach the World Series in the future, and everything can’t rely on home runs.

This off-season should be full of maneuvers by general manager Brian Cashman, considering they have three starting pitchers hitting free agency and a bevy of problems within their batting order. Notably, a lack of lefty baths and diversity.

Ranking the Yankees’ top needs during the 2021 offseason:

1.) Starting pitching

The Yankees’ starting pitching is in trouble, considering they’re set to lose Masahiro Tanaka, JA Happ, and James Paxton. While it is possible, they retain one of the three, going out and finding a healthier option with more consistency is the ideal scenario.

I could see them retaining Paxton, considering he will be cheaper after suffering a season-ending injury in his forearm flexor. That would give the Yankees a lefty arm in the rotation and a familiar face.

However, if they really want to upgrade the position, they need to find a number two starter behind Gerrit Cole. Of course, Cincinnati Reds’ star Trevor Bauer is one of the premier free agents this upcoming off-season. He finished the 2020 season with a 1.73 ERA and allowed just nine homers over 73 innings. He pitched two complete games and two shutouts.

They will be gaining back Luis Severino, but coming off Tommy John surgery it’s better to approach his spot in the rotation with caution and prepare for the worst. Then there’s Domingo German, who’s returning from a suspension — he’s another player who I don’t necessarily trust, especially after missing an entire year of baseball.

2.) Re-sign DJ LeMahieu at all costs

If there’s anything the Yankees must prioritize, it is the re-signing of DJ LeMahieu. As the only player to have won a Gold Glove, let alone three in the infield, allowing him to walk would simply be malpractice.

LeMahieu finished the 2020 season with a .364 batting average, adding 10 home runs and 27 RBIs. He was fantastic for the Yankees, despite going cold against Tampa in the ALDS. I could see the Yankees extending him for the next 4-5 years, paying him an average of $20 million per season.

3.) Bullpen arms

Losing Tommy Kahnle early on the campaign was a significant blow to the bullpen. They were forced to utilize options like Jonathan Holder, and Adam Ottavino, who struggled with his accuracy and efficiency. There are plenty of bullpen options to consider in free agency, including former Yankee Dellin Betances, Mark Melancon, and Liam Hendriks.

I could actually see the Yankees going after Betances, who struggled this year in just 11.2 innings pitched. Giving him a greater sample size and signing him to a team-friendly deal would not only be a healthy move monetarily but also bring back a familiar face that is capable of pitching in big situations.

4.) Pure contact hitters with speed

The Yankees have relied too much on home runs in recent years. They don’t have enough pure contact hitters who can get on base and steal bases at a high rate. Brett Gardner is usually that man, but age is quickly catching up to him, and he only finished with a .223 batting average and .747 OPS. He’ll be 37 years old next year, and finding a new lefty who can hit for contact and run the bases well should be a focal point.