New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman came into the offseason with a ton of pressure to improve the roster for the 2024 season. Cashman along with owner Hal Steinbrenner shared the opinion that the 2023 season was a complete embarrassment and it was not acceptable.
The Yankees rolled the dice heading into the 2023 season with no set left fielder. After re-signing Aaron Judge and signing Carlos Rodon, New York didn’t address the gaping hole in left field opting to go with internal options. It completely backfired and the outfield situation was a disaster all last season. Outside of Aaron Judge who was hurt for an extended period of time, the Yankees offense was terrible last year.
Cashman was very aggressive in attempting to fix that issue ahead of the 2024 season. The Yankees aggressively targeted Juan Soto as soon as the offseason began and they ultimately acquired him just at the conclusion of the Winter Meetings. Soto brings stability to the lineup and the outfield. With Soto, the Yankees have arguably the best right-handed and left-handed hitters in the game with him and Aaron Judge.
From there, the Yankees turned their attention to the rotation which struggled last year. Nestor Cortes and Carlos Rodon had injuries which hindered their entire season. New York zeroed in on Yoshinobu Yamamoto and went all out to sign him offering the Japanese ace 10-years $300 million. However, Yamamoto opted to join forces with Shohei Ohtani in Los Angeles instead.
New York’s Pivot
After missing on Yamamoto, the Yankees turned to a pitching market that gave them pause. While there were options at the top of the free agent and trade markets, the prices were and still are ridiculously high. There seemed to be some serious mutual interest between the Yanks and two-time Cy Young award winner Blake Snell, however, after making an initial offer, the Yankees pivoted after hearing the asking price.
The pivot was one that caught everyone off guard. New York signed NY native Marcus Stroman to a two-year deal with a vesting option. Stroman, who is a very solid pitcher, always wanted to play in pinstripes but had some serious bad blood between him and the front office. After the Yankees didn’t trade for him a few years ago, Brian Cashman said they didn’t acquire him because they didn’t view him as a difference maker.
Stroman took offense to this and has spent the last few years taking shots at the Yanks and their fans. However, last week, him and Cashman broke bread in Tampa and smoothed things over. It’s business at the end of the day and New York signed Stroman to sure up the rotation.
It wasn’t the sexiest signing, but signing Stroman ensures that the Yankees won’t be left in the dust when it comes to the available pitchers.
Yankees Mulling Options
Now, New York has a few options on the table. Per recent reports, it seems more likely at this point that NYY will look to improve the bullpen while monitoring the starting pitching market. The industry as a whole and pretty much the entire fanbase believes that the Yankees need another starter.
However, at this time, they seem much more active in the reliever market. They are not out of the starting pitching market, but as opposed to being aggressive buyers like they were before the Stroman signing, they are giving the impression that they are a casual shopper. In their eyes, they don’t need a starter, but if one falls into their price point, they will pounce.
Hector Neris, Wandy Peralta, and Josh Hader are all being mentioned as possibilities for the Yankees. Hader is the sexiest name as he’s the best reliever in the game. However, he’s wanting a deal larger than Edwin Diaz’s deal with the Mets and I just don’t see NYY making that move, at least not right now.
Mark Feinsand has reported that New York is emerging as a front runner for Hector Neris which would be a great signing. In my opinion, I think the Yankees would be better off signing Neris and reuniting with Wandy Peralta versus signing Hader.
My personal prediction is that I think the Yankees sign both Neris and Peralta. From there, it’ll be interesting to see how they play things out. If they sign both of those guys, their bullpen would look strong containing the likes of Clay Holmes, Tommy Kahnle, Scott Effross, Jonathan Loaisiga, Hector Neris, and Wandy Peralta.
At that point, Cashman will sit back and watch the starter market play out. My dream is for the team to figure out a deal with the Brewers for Corbin Burnes, but I think the Brewers will hold onto him until the deadline at least. Dylan Cease has seemingly been their top target on the trade market, but I can’t see them trading Spencer Jones which is what it would take unless the price comes down.
I’m a little surprised at the lack of traction with the Marlins. The Yankees and Marlins line up great in terms of a potential trade and Jesus Luzardo is out there for the right deal. That’s one that could come together quick if the price drops.
It’s going to be very interesting to see how the next month shakes out. My personal prediction is that Cashman will sign those two relievers I listed and then he’ll roll the dice on the starting pitchers that are already on the team. Is that wise? I don’t think so, but I don’t think the Yankees are comfortable with the current prices.
That said, I would expect NYY to be very active at the 2024 trade deadline when a guy like Corbin Burnes is likely going to hit the market.