Injuries and inconsistencies marred the New York Yankees‘ 2023 season. Expensive veterans plagued the roster as they failed to carry their weight. Declining talent like Josh Donaldson and Giancarlo Stanton left major holes in the batting order despite the fact both missed a good chunk of the season due to injury.
Looking ahead, the Yankees desperately need to be getting younger and more durable, which is why international star free agent Yoshinobu Yamamoto and superstar slugger Juan Soto fit the bill so perfectly. The Yankees are intrigued by both and are expected to be aggressive in the market to improve those two categories, burying the liabilities of aging veterans who aren’t living up to their paychecks.
This past campaign, we saw a number of disappointing performances, but let’s take a look at the worst of the bunch and how they could still impact the team in 2024.
The Yankees’ 3 Most Disappointing Players From 2023
1.) Giancarlo Stanton
Declining outfielder Giancarlo Stanton has been the talk of the town lately after general manager Brian Cashman called him out for being injury-prone. Cashman is simply telling the truth, but Stanton‘s agent, Joel Wolfe, took it personally and fired back. Cashman eventually responded with a bit of positivity, indicating that the Yankees’ success usually coincides with Stanton playing well.
If the Yankees could, they surely would offload the $98 million remaining in luxury tax salary until they have a club option in 2028. They will have to trigger a $10 million buyout clause, so they’re stuck with him until then.
At 34 years old, Stanton is coming off his worst season as a professional, hitting .191 with a .275 OBP and a .420 slugging rate, including 24 homers and 60 RBIs. His walk rate dropped below 10% for the first time since 2018, and his wRC+ sits at just 89, indicating he was 11% worse than the average MLB player. He also posted a -0.8 WAR, proving that he was more of a problem than a solution.
Aaron Judge indicated that the team, even the veterans, need to be proactive in redefining their game and improving. While it wasn’t a direct hint that Stanton needs to get in the lab, it certainly stands out as a prominent piece of information.
If the Yankees could even get slightly above-average value from Stanton in 2024, it would, at the very least, help the team substantially. They can’t have a liability hitting clean-up on a daily basis, notably one that can’t play in the outfield due to injury concerns. Cashman said it best: The team has to be prepared for him to miss time since it is inevitable.
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2.) Carlos Rodon
There may not have been a worse player than Carlos Rodon in 2023, who signed a six-year, $162 million deal last off-season. Rodon earned the 11th biggest pitching contract in history, and the Yankees got absolutely nothing from it in his first season. The 30-year-old should bounce back, barring any significant injuries, but his 6.85 ERA, 5.79 FIP, 60.5% left on-base rate, and measly 27.1% ground-ball rate tell the entire story.
If Rodon doesn’t pan out or at least offer adequate production, that might be the biggest stain on Cashman‘s career, and there certainly is a lot of them. He has the stuff to be a fantastic lefty arm in the rotation and was coming off a career-high 178 innings pitched in 2022, hosting a 2.88 ERA with 12 strikeouts per nine.
We saw a shell of that version, but the Yankees will certainly be taking it easy with Rodon as they rehabilitate him from a left forearm strain, chronic back injury, and hamstring injury he sustained during the 2023 season.
3.) Luis Severino
The Yankees prayed and hoped that homegrown starting pitcher Luis Severino would pan out, but the 29-year-old has simply been too injury-prone. He finished this past season with a 6.65 ERA and 6.14 FIP, including a career-low 7.96 strikeouts per nine, a 65.9% left-on-base rate, and a 20.9% HR/FB ratio across 89.1 innings.
Severino was awful, and the Yankees had no choice but to move on. There is interest in bringing back Frankie Montas on a one-year deal, and while Severino has plenty of suitors in free agency, the Bombers need to wipe the slate clean and move on from a pitcher they simply can’t rely on any longer.
Severino’s departure is another example of a homegrown talent that didn’t pan out for the Yankees, a far too familiar reality these days.
Honorable Mention: Josh Donaldson
How can we write about disappointing players without mentioning Josh Donaldson and the $50 million the Yankees paid him over two years to be awful?
Now 37 years old, Donaldson may return to the MLB next season, but it certainly won’t be with the Yankees. Across 34 games with the Bombers this year, Donaldson hit .142 with a .225 OBP, including 10 homers and 15 RBIs with a 75 wRC+. While he remains a solid defensive piece, his prime years are well behind him. His bat speed and plate discipline have fallen off a cliff, and the Yankees can no longer justify paying declining players substantial salaries.
As you can see, there’s a common trend of Cashman relying heavily on expensive players past their prime, which is why going young and durable needs to be at the focal point of the team’s strategy this off-season.