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AL East rivals are giving the Yankees no motivation to act aggressively

Slow winters might be the new norm, but the teams surrounding the Yankees getting worse is a problem for Yankees fans.

World Series - Tampa Bay Rays v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game Six
“You’re outta here, Blake”
Photo by Maxx Wolfson/Getty Images

Success isn’t guaranteed and shouldn’t be taken for granted. This much is true. Sure, unplanned events can come about and throw everything for a loop. Yet without some major catastrophe, I feel very confident in saying the Yankees will make the postseason in 2021. In a sense, that’s great news for the team’s fans. The playoffs are a crapshoot anyway, so they just need to get there and then anything can happen. But really, that is the problem that Yankees fans have to face.

The biggest news in baseball right now is that the Cleveland “We just need to be racist for one final year” Baseball Team traded stars Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco to the Mets. The Yankees could have used both of those players and could’ve probably made a competitive offer to try and land them. Yet, they did nothing. The Mets getting better has no bearing on the Yankees. The days of George are long gone. The Yankees, as an organization, really just need to worry about four teams. Before the Lindor trade, the biggest news in baseball came from one of those four teams.

The biggest threat to the Bombers were the Tampa Bay Rays. They won the division easily by a seven-game margin and had the Yankees number all season long. They made it to the World Series and look primed to be a thorn in the Yankees’ foot this upcoming season as well. So what did they do this winter to try and make it back to the World Series? They traded their ace away because...reasons? Snell is three years away from free agency and just two years removed from a Cy Young winning season. There’s no reason to trade him away, especially when he wanted to stay.

Rays fans, whose numbers rival that of Never Nudes, should be used to this though. It’s shocking that attendance is so low for a team that constantly trades away homegrown star talent. But hey, they’re a very smart club that can figure out how to be good while finding new, fun ways to not pay their players. Go team finances!..?

But the Rays actively getting worse is a problem not just for their fan, but for Yankees fans as well. The team has no real reason to be aggressive in the market and get better. Even before the Snell trade, the Yankees’ chances to make the postseason were high because there aren’t many competitive teams in the American League as a whole and there was no other real competition in the division. The Orioles are the Orioles, the Red Sox are simply there, and the Blue Jays do seem like they want to get better but they haven’t made any moves yet. As of right now, the playoffs are now a virtual lock. And that’s just the new goal.

The playoffs are a crapshoot anyway, so just get in and anything can happen. Yet as we’ve seen the past few years, the Yankees getting to the playoffs isn’t a problem, but once they get there, they have very glaring needs. Specifically, starting pitching. It’s been a problem for a few years so they went out and got one whole starting pitcher. Sure they got one of the best ones out there and gave him the richest contract a pitcher has ever gotten, but he can’t pitch every game.

Behind Gerrit Cole, the Yankees rotation does not look pretty. They might let Masahiro Tanaka walk to make an already questionable rotation look worse. They’re stuck in a standstill with DJ LeMahieu and won’t even consider making other moves in parallel. The slow market, the non-competitive nature of most teams, and their division rivals getting out of the way so the Yankees can just plow ahead all brings us to where we are now.

It’s a struggle to to get excited about a team that just doesn’t seem to care about winning a championship because they just have to get to the dance and from there it’s apparently all up to luck. How can you not be romantic about baseball?