New York Yankees: 2016 Winter Meetings preview

The New York Yankees entered the 2016 season with low expectations, as the team has been rebuilding over the past few seasons. However, the addition of Aroldis Chapman to a back-end consisting of Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances gave the team hope that they could compete in 2016. By the All-Star break, the Yankees didn’t appear to have a shot at making the playoffs, so they traded away two-thirds of “No-Run-DMC” to put themselves in a better spot amidst the rebuild. Despite a hot start to September, thanks in large part to rookie catcher Gary Sanchez, the Yankees finished at 84-78, fourth in the American League East and five games out of a Wild Card spot.

While their starting rotation remains very similar to last year’s, their lineup and bullpen took some hits. They lost Carlos Beltran, Andrew Miller, Aroldis Chapman, and Ivan Nova to trades in July, which brought back a plethora of young talent that should work their way into the Yankees’ plans. They also parted ways with Nathan Eovaldi last week. However this is the Yankees we are talking about, and another Major League Baseball season can’t start unless the New York Yankees have some chance of competing. Their plan is to stay still quiet on the free agent market and develop their young talent, but that’s not to say the Yankees won’t make some moves this offseason.

Positions of Need

Starting Rotation: As it has been the past the past number of seasons, the starting rotation is in dire need of a facelift. Masahiro Tanaka is the sure-ace of the staff, but aside from him, they have an aging lefty in CC Sabathia, a never-know-what-you’ll-get pitcher in Michael Pineda, and Luis Severino, who has lights-out stuff but has yet to prove he can put it together on a regular basis.

They lost Nathan Eovaldi to injury before releasing him, and will likely have some guys like Luis Cessa and Bryan Mitchell fighting for a spot in spring training. However, in a division like the AL East, there are far too many questions in that rotation not to make a move this offseason.

Bullpen: The Yankees entered the 2016 season with a bullpen that will likely go down as having the best back-end in the history of baseball. The three-headed beast of Betances, Miller, and Chapman was the Yankees’ one hope at competing last season, but the bullpen has a much different look after the Yankees traded away Miller and Chapman. Betances is slotted in as the closer as it stands now, with Tyler Clippard as the setup man, but outside of them their bullpen is filled with inexperienced guys who haven’t had much time to show what they can do. The Yankees need another top reliever to add to their bullpen, especially if they don’t end up acquiring another starting pitcher.

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DH: The Bronx Bombers lost some of their firepower this season after losing Carlos Beltran and Mark Teixeira. They will be getting Greg Bird back at the start of the season, which will add some power along with Gary Sanchez, but the Yankees still lack a big bat in the middle of the lineup. Guys like Aaron Judge and Tyler Austin have shown they have some pop, but their lack of experience is cause for concern.

Potential Targets

Starting Rotation: Signing Rich Hill is the likely move for the Yanks who have been linked to him since the outset of the offseason. Hill began his career revival in 2015 and has put together solid numbers over the last two seasons. He only made four starts in 2015, but in 24 games started over two seasons he went 14-6 with a 2.00 ERA and a .926 WHIP. It’s a relatively small sample size, but if he could come anywhere close to those numbers in a full season, he will make any team lucky enough to pick him up happy campers.

Bullpen: Aroldis Chapman has stated that he would love to come back to New York, and a team would be crazy not to want him closing games for them. He will cost a pretty penny, but a shutdown closer such as Chapman is essential to a successful season in today’s game. This is why the Yankees must bring him back, despite the cost.

DH: A reunion with Carlos Beltran makes too much sense not to happen this offseason. Beltran was one of the Yankees’ most consistent hitters in his time in pinstripes. In 242 games he hit 34 homers and knocked in 116 RBI. He was one of the most valuable pieces in the Yankees’ offense, and his experience and consistency would make him a perfect fit in a lineup filled with young talent. A surprising signing that would make sense for the Yankees is the third baseman Justin Turner. The 32-year-old put together a great 2016 campaign, finishing in the top ten of MVP voting. He batted .275 with 27 homers and 90 RBI with the Dodgers. He would replace Chase Headley, who has not produced very much in three seasons with New York. Turner will likely be too expensive for the Yankees at this point, but he remains an interesting free agent to watch.

Possible Trade Pieces

The Yankees could look to the trade market to fulfill their needs as well. While Brett Gardner remains the most likely major leaguer to go if there were a trade, the Yankees also have a plethora of prospects that can be used to get a deal done. One possible deal that comes to mind is Brett Gardner and prospects for Detroit Tigers’ Justin Verlander. Verlander is coming off a fantastic season in which he should have won the Cy Young award after receiving first place votes. He may be getting up there in age, but this past season should be an indication that the former MVP is still capable of dominating and pitching quality starts day in and day out. The deal would make sense for both teams in the short term, but it’s unlikely that Cashman and the Yankees will stray from the plan of avoiding aging players and focusing on young talent.  

One Bold Prediction

The New York Yankees will make a splash at the Winter Meetings, signing Aroldis Chapman and Carlos Beltran, but will stay away from Edwin Encarnacion. They’ll shock a lot of people, not by making a blockbuster trade or signing huge free agents outside of Chapman and Beltran, but instead by sticking to their guns. They’ll enter 2017 with a lot of young guys eager to prove themselves, and will look to put themselves in the best position to compete in 2018.

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