The early stages of the offseason play a critical role in setting the tone for the rest of the winter. Ideas spread and narratives form, and they tend to linger. When an abrupt postseason exit is involved, they become almost impossible to shake. While there may be a small grain of truth or factual grounding in these tropes and storylines, more often than not, they can be readily debunked.
Unfortunately for the Yankees, these narratives are already crystallizing. It’s worth trying to stop some of the most egregious ones in their tracks, or else we’re in store for a long offseason.
1. The Yankees should trade Giancarlo Stanton to the Dodgers
This scenario isn’t impossible in the sense that Major League Baseball hasn’t prohibited such a deal, but it’s just not happening. The Stanton to the Dodgers narrative first surfaced in an article by Nick Cafardo on December 16th, less than a week after the Yankees officially introduced the slugger.
“You hear a lot of stuff at the Winter Meetings. Here’s one rumor told to me by a longtime, major force in the baseball world. It involves the Yankees and Giancarlo Stanton. The story goes that after 2018, the Yankees deal Stanton to the Dodgers and sign Bryce Harper. Your first reaction is, “Wow! Never happen.” Then you start to think about it. Stanton is an LA kid. The Dodgers didn’t have great interest in Stanton this offseason, but perhaps by the end of next year? The Yankees have always coveted Harper and his lefthanded stroke at Yankee Stadium. It starts to make more sense, doesn’t it?”
That paragraph got etched into the minds of Yankees fans, and it popped up every now and then during the regular season. The narrative went into overdrive in the wake of Stanton’s rough ALDS showing, however, and has since become a daily refrain in the comments and on social media. Yankees fans seem to think that all of their problems will be solved if the team sends Stanton to Los Angeles.
What makes this idea so preposterous? First, I wouldn’t get my hopes up if there's only one mainstream writer with the scoop. A story this consequential would have attracted the attention of many other reporters. Second, it doesn’t make sense for the Dodgers to make the trade, even if they could use the outfield thump.
Like the Yankees, the Dodgers reset their luxury tax rates for the 2019 season. Why surrender prospect capital and absorb a large salary when they could just pay Harper? If the Bombers landed the 26-year-old, why would they trade away their designated hitter? Contrary to popular belief, Stanton was quite good in 2018. The Yankees have the financial resources to keep both and run out one of the most fearsome lineups in the history of baseball. The whole idea is convoluted at best, and Occam’s razor says it’s not happening.
2. The Yankees only need a temporary replacement for Didi Gregorius
Brian Cashman and his team encountered a major roadblock before the offseason even began. Losing Gregorius to Tommy John surgery makes reinforcing the middle infield a top priority. Some have hooked on to the idea that the Yankees don’t need a splashy upgrade, that they can just sign a stopgap and be on their way.
The problem here is that no one knows how long this injury will keep Gregorius on the shelf. He may be back in the early summer, he may return in August, or he may miss the entire 2019 season. Setbacks happen, and if one delay’s Gregorius’ return, the Yankees can be in some trouble. Remember that Sir Didi posted a 121 wRC+ last year, making his offense hard to replace. Neither Adeiny Hechavarria nor Neil Walker fit the bill as legitimate starting options.
Manny Machado, now he could make for an impact upgrade. He’s worth pursuing even if he comes with a bad reputation. A trade target like Scooter Gennett also makes sense, but like the Dodgers with Harper, it seems easier to just pay the free agent. Just keep in mind that a legitimate World Series contender shouldn’t start replacement level bats like Walker or Hechavarria.
3. The Yankees should move on from CC Sabathia
The Yankees desperately need to add starting pitching this offseason. They need to add two starters to be competitive, but what’s stopping them from landing three? Many fans seem happy to bid farewell to Sabathia, but he remains an effective option for the Bombers.
The 38-year-old logged 153 innings of 3.65 ERA (4.16 FIP) ball in 2018. That’s as reliable as it gets in the back of a rotation. He remains among the game’s elite at inducing soft contact, knows the New York landscape, and has assumed leadership responsibilities in the clubhouse. Yes, the Yankees need to get other pitchers, too, but that shouldn’t rule out a reunion with CC.
Some think it’s time to see what the kids have, and that time will come. Injuries will happen. They always do. Adding Sabathia gives the team a darn good cushion, though. The Yankees will probably be glad they brought the veteran southpaw back by May.