It is not too early to be way too early on some offseason predictions, mainly because I do not believe the success or failure of the Yankees season during the final few series/playoffs will at all hinder whatever the Yankee organization has already decided what they are going to do this offseason. The Yankees have a sample size of each player that’s way too big to be suede from over the next few weeks (or less). With that being said, I am going to put my money where my mouth is so I can revisit my predictions before spring training.
Brian Cashman and Aaron Boone will maintain their roles on the Yankees organization this year. I do not believe Cashman would be allowed to make the trades for Gallo and Rizzo if Hal Steinbrenner was planning to get rid of him. I also don’t think it would be smart to get rid of Cashman for three reasons: 1. He has built an organization with enough depth to always have an answer for a laughable amount of injuries. 2. While we may not have many of MLB’s top prospects, Cashman clearly built the roster with enough quality depth to trade for Gallo and Rizzo without even touching our own top prospects. 3. You cannot justify getting rid of Cashman without a replacement ready and available. The only upgrade expected to be available is Theo Epstein, and I would be shocked if he did not enter the Mets organization. There is no way Steve Cohen is not furious about the Mets season, despite its bright spots.
This is not to say Cashman is perfect. He needs to grow his own pitchers instead of relying on every other team to grow pitchers for him.
I find most people’s feelings towards Aaron Boone coincide with their understanding of the role of the manager in 2021. If you think this is still 1977, you likely hate Boone for being too soft on multiple fronts. If you know how baseball works in 2021, you likely don’t mind Aaron Boone because you feel like the manager is a middle-man role player who gets his direction from some nerds and their iPads. With that being said, Aaron Boone plays the 2021 manager role just fine. It would not make logical sense for the Yankees to throw Aaron Boone under the bus and replace him with a clone. I do not like calling Boone a puppet, because that term implies Boone does not know his role or recognize he is being taken advantage of. Boone knows exactly what his job is, and so do the Yankees.
By the way, if anyone claims the Yankees should hire a Buck Showalter or someone of the sort, they likely do not understand how/why the Yankees system is not set up to benefit that type of manager.
I am on record since 2019 for advocating against moving Torres to shortstop. I think he cuts corners on his mechanics to compensate for not being able to get rid of the ball quick enough. I think he is better at second base where he has time to complete the play, and as a result, feels/performs more comfortably.
We do need a new shortstop, but I do not think Torres gets traded for two reasons: 1. His trade value is too low at this time to get anything productive in return. 2. Trading Torres would be Cashman’s admission of failure. He did not trade Clint when he had the chance, I have no reason to believe he would treat Torres any differently. I predict Torres goes to second base in 2022 and DJ Lemahieu goes to third because…
I think Urshela gets traded. Between him and Torres, Urshela is the one with trade value. Firstly, Gio is a proven success. He was also a diamond-in-the-rough surprise, so trading him would not be the admission of failure as would Torres. If anything, Urshela is evidence of Cashman making a stellar find, so it would make sense to turn him into a gift that keeps on giving.
Second, Urshela just had an uncharacteristically injured year. Trading him would be smart because the Yankees can get their value back before injuries get worse. Since Urshela has proven success with the Yankees, there will likely be a team who can discount 2021 as an anomaly for him and therefore a reasonable risk/reward investment. But I do not think he leaves alone…
Luke Voit and Anthony Rizzo
Voit plays an okay first base, but Rizzo’s glove is too far ahead of Voit’s to justify letting him go if the Yankees want to build a winning team. Also, Rizzo is a lefty who brings the much-needed balance to the lineup, especially at Yankee Stadium. It is really that simple.
Luke Voit can hit a baseball and absolutely has trade value. I love Voit to death, and he may have been the best trade acquisition in all MLB in 2018, but the injury bug does not predict a healthy future for him. I think his time here is over but deserves a heartfelt “thank you.”
So Who Plays Shortstop?
I think everyone’s heart and soul wants Andrew Velazquez to find success there. The Yankees’ endgame at shortstop should be Anthony Volpe, and I do not think it is crazy for Velazquez to make a few years as an adequate placeholder until then. If the Yankees agree on that overall philosophy, then Corey Seager would not be a smart spend of money. If the Yankees did get a free agent shortstop, I believe the one most likely to take a contract for the Volpe-waiting timeframe would be Marcus Semien, but I even believe that is a stretch.
The trade window for Sanchez is long gone. I do not see anyone giving the Yankees anyone of value for him, and his arm is too good to give away for nothing. Trading Sanchez would be an even greater admission of failure by Cashman than trading Torres. I predict Gary plays out the rest of his contract in New York and the Yankees let him walk without an offer.
Speaking of Baby Bombers, this is the conversation nobody wants to have. Aaron Judge is the heart and soul of the Yankees, so there is no way Cashman can justify to the fans to let him walk. While healthy during the 2021 regular season, Aaron Judge’s track record with the Injury List does not suggest smooth sailing for the future. Judge is also too important to the Yankees in order to trade him, so here is my far-off prediction: Yankees will offer him something reasonable, and will let someone overpay stupidly like what happened to Cano. The difference is…I think Aaron Judge might keep the reasonable offer in order to stay in New York.
Love the man. Hate the contract. Completely understand why Cashman took on that contract. All of these things are not mutually exclusive. With that being said, the only way to get rid of his contract is for him to waive his no-trade clause. The only way he might do that is to win the World Series and make sure you have another contender and/or SoCal team lined up to take him on. No World Series, no chance he asks to go anywhere else. New York is the place to be.
Now he is interesting because he has played a pretty solid outfield, and frankly hit very well as an outfielder. He should play the outfield consistently either 3-4 times a week in 2022, or DHing the remaining days. This means the Yankees need to shop for another outfielder, most preferably a legit centerfielder because I do not think Aaron Hicks plays another game in a Yankee uniform again.
For as long as this man is still grinding tooth-and-nail for his second ring, he will continue to play for the Yankees for pennies on the dollar, and that is a good thing for the Yankees from a financial perspective.
Chad Green and Aroldis Chapman
I have intentionally and appropriately saved the closers for last. These two have given up too many big-time home runs to justify staying. Luckily they throw hard, so there is trade value in them. The Padres will bite at any shiny object you dangle in front of their face in the hopes that they will one day become relevant for more than just jersey sales…which even that is a new venture for them. They have a great farm system, and you have to believe their mediocre bullpen would want a crack at least at Chapman. This is a trade made in heaven if you ask me.
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