All this post-season drama about which free agent the Yankees should acquire makes me wonder if people realize that the 2018 Yankees won 100 games without these "must have" players.
Should they sign Machado/Should they get Harper?
If I were GM, I would not bother with either.
Crazy? Maybe- but then again I am a Die Hard Yankee realist that does not expect them to win every season, I do not write them off in April when they are not in first nor do I expect them to sign every available stud in the off-season in order to win a 28th World Series Title.
The Yankees have always been accused of "buying" titles, which I never understood because every team out there pays players way more than they are worth to play what amounts to...a game. Unless there are teams out there with a roster of volunteers, let's permanently bury the "Yankees Buy World Series" argument once and for all.
When the Yankees have broken the bank in the past, very rarely has it worked in their favor. Their greatest dynasty in recent memory, the late 90's, was comprised of mostly homegrown talent with a few high dollar chips. Many teams since their last World Series win in 2009 have proven that World Series can be won with a far less payroll that the Yankees- it's about talent and ultimately the team that is assembled delivering or exceeding expectations.
It's never about money- well, it is always about money- but winning titles is about how that money spent delivers in the field. The Yankees have one World Series win in the last 17 seasons, while having the highest payroll in the game for the majority of that time- proving my point better than I could ever vocalize it.
So what would I do?
All my focus would be on starting pitching- Remember- you only need one run to win a game and you can get that without even getting a hit. The average "elite" starter has an ERA around 3 runs per game...2-5 might be closer to 4 runs per game. Your Bullpen is supposed to have an ERA under 1. The Yankees current offense will score between 4-6 runs per game the majority of the season...they need pitchers, not bats.
Lets break it down a little more...
Offensively/Defensively: The Yankees led the majors in Home runs, broke the record in fact, and did so while Sanchez and Judge missed a pretty good amount of time on the DL. Let's break the lineup Down.
Catcher: Sanchez- Unlikely to bat below .200 again and the pop will always be there. In a full, healthy campaign, Sanchez is arguably one of the best contact hitters on the team that s good for 30 plus homers and 100 rbi in any given year. Romine was a great backup and Kyle was a nice option for limited starts as well. Sanchez will get better at fielding and he can throw runners out. Keep in mind, Sanchez defenses holes did not cost the Yankees a World Series Berth, his bat actually made noise in the playoffs and again, this team won 100 games with a hole in his glove. Not worried about catching.
First: Bird/Voit: We do not know what Bird is capable of- he has Ellsburyitis. However, we have seen glimpses of what he can do when healthy and he is young so he has that in his favor. Voit? No idea if what he did in half a season with the Yanks will be repeated but it is a fair assumption to say that a platoon of Bird and Voit will garner the Yankees 30 taters a year and close to 100 RBI between them. I am fine with that- who wouldn't be? If Bird gets injured. Neil Walker can surely hit 10 homers and add 50 rbi at that spot. All three are decent defenders...no worried here either.
Second: Torres- not worried. He will hit better and his defense will improve. No issues there other than defense which can always improve.
Short- We have a slight short-term problem here with Didi out for TJ surgery. Yankees have enough in-house offense to allow Torres to play his natural position at short and use a combination of Walker (a natural 2nd baseman) and Adieny Hechevarria at Second until Didi comes back. They could also do a trade involving Sonny Gray for Jonathan Schoop or Daniel Murphy, whom I would prefer. They DO NOT need Machado and his Robinson Cano lazy approach to the game. Everyone listed but Adieny can hit, so not worried. Defense will depend on who plays where, and who they get to do it...but overall, defense is not an issue for me at Short either.
Third- Andujar- Rookie of the Year (better be)- will only get better at hitting and defensively he can always improve. His bat makes me not want to move him so He needs to be working this off-season, all winter, in defense. Jeter made 54 errors at one time at short...anyone can get better defensively. Not looking for a replacement- but a solid backup would be nice and the Yankees have enough in-house to cover when necessary.
Outfield: No matter what this team does, they have an embarrassment of riches out there both defensively and offensively making a run at Harper unnecessary. Judge, Stanton, Gardner, Hicks and McCutchen (if they keep him) are all solid with the bat and the glove and the rotation of these four give the Yankees a decent DH in every game depending on lineup. Nothing else is needed here, sorry Bryce Harper fans, Yanks don't need him.
Bullpen: Nothing needed- at all.
So that leaves the Starting Rotation and that is where the majority of my money or trades would go.
How would I do that?
I am NOT convinced Severino is an ace so I will make him my number 2 and allow him to emphatically slam the door on that role. I am convinced that he is a top rotation guy, so he ,of course, stays put. Tanaka has earned enough during his stint to be a solid number 3 on my roster. Sabathia's performance last year earns him a one year contract as my 5th starter. So that leaves me with the hunt for a No 1. and No. 4 starter.
Who would they be and how would I get them?
Free Agents: J.A Happ, Patrick Corbin, Dallas Kuechel, Marco Estrada and Gio Gonzales.
I would love to have Happ back as my number 4 guy and if I could not get him, then either Patrick Corbin, Estrada or Gonzalez would be most welcome among those in the free agent pool. Dallas Kuechel could be my target for my No.1 and let him and Sevvy battle that out for the honor- that would be a nice headache to have. If C.C opts to go elsewhere or the Yankees opt to let him go elsewhere...you have one of those guys easily slotting in and the Yankees would be no worse off- and would be younger and possibly better if Sabathia retired or were to sign elsewhere and the Yanks nabbing anyone of those three to replace him.
Keuchel, Severino, Tanaka, Happ, Sabathia
Keuchel, Severino, Tanaka, Happ, Corbin
Keuchel, Severino, Tanaka, Happ, Estrada
Keuchel, Severino, Tanaka, Happ, Gonzalez
It ALL works for me- any scenerio...I will take it.
Trades for Starting Pitching? That's another article...but...
Trade Ellsbury for a bag of balls and Sonny Gray for a Short-stop or backup second or third base option and the Yankees need to little else but spend the offseason getting healthy, strong and working on that defense.
All of this is of course, is just my opinion and the only thing I am absolutely positive about is that no matter who the Yankees acquire, or don't, some Yankees fans will give up on this team in April, forget they did so in August when they are in first and want Boone and everyone else in the organization to be fired when they don't win 162 games or a WS title- even with Machado or Harper or BOTH on board.