Yankees still owe trade bust $6 million for the 2024 season

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at New York Yankees, josh donaldson
John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

As the 2023 season unfolds, the New York Yankees have shifted their focus toward talent development, accumulating innings for future evaluation.

Prospects Everson Pereira and Oswald Peraza have both been promoted to the major league roster from Triple-A Scranton, as the organization gears up for 2024. Building a strong sample size of work from these youngsters could provide the Yankees with crucial insights into whether they are ready to play prominent roles in future lineups. This focus on youth isn’t just for forward planning; it may also be a necessity, given the team’s history of bad contracts and excessive spending.

The Lingering Impact of Josh Donaldson’s Contract

The ill-advised trade with the Minnesota Twins, which brought Josh Donaldson to the Bronx, continues to burden the Yankees’ finances and performance.

Donaldson’s $50 million contract for two years has proven to be far from a smart investment. Now 37, Donaldson managed to play only 34 games this season before a calf injury sidelined him. His stat line reads like a horror story: a .142 batting average, a .225 OBP, 10 home runs, 15 RBIs, a 26.7% strikeout rate, a 10% walk rate, and a 73 wRC+. This is a steep drop from his first year with the team, where he managed a .222 batting average and a 97 wRC+.

Yankees’ Questionable Decisions: A Look at Recent Failures

The decline in Donaldson’s performance calls into question the Yankees’ decision to acquire an older player with a hefty price tag. The bad decision-making doesn’t stop there. General Manager Brian Cashman had planned for Isiah Kiner-Falefa (IKF) to hold down the shortstop position until Anthony Volpe was ready for the big leagues. This move also backfired spectacularly as IKF struggled defensively and failed to make an impact in the batter’s box.

“The Donaldson trade was terrible. That was bad from the jump. I think the Donaldson trade was bad from the start because the Yankees knew just how poorly he was getting along with people in Minnesota. There was some toxicity going on there. I don’t think you can look at the Donaldson trade in any positive way.”

Jeff Passan said on the TMKS

Financial Ties and Upcoming Challenges

With IKF hitting free agency and Donaldson potentially retiring, the Yankees still have financial obligations to address. Specifically, they will owe Donaldson $6 million due to a converted mutual option that effectively acts as a buyout. Initially, this was an $8 million buyout but morphed into a $6 million option once he was traded to the Yankees.

Cashman’s Conundrum: The Path Forward

Brian Cashman recently spoke to the fans about the failed 2023 season, describing it as a “disaster.” He acknowledged that he would bear the consequences of his questionable decisions in the last two off-seasons.

The upcoming winter period presents an opportunity for the Yankees to recalibrate their strategy. A stellar off-season, coupled with significant contributions from rising prospects, will be crucial for the Yankees to get their championship aspirations back on track.

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