The New York Yankees have fallen short of the ultimate goal once again. The “streak” will now be extended to 12 years for the most iconic team in sports failing to even reach the World Series. The season was filled with highs and many, many lows, but it’s time to unbuckle your seatbelt and get off the ride because the rollercoaster year has now come to an abrupt stop.
Over the last five years, the Yankees have finished first in the American League East just once, and have continuously watched as the Tampa Bay Rays, Boston Red Sox, and Houston Astros ran laps around them. The “Baby Bombers” core we all saw start in that magical 2017 season has not lived up to the hype, and it seems as though their window is barely cracked open — if at all. It’s time for the Yankees to stop settling for first and second round exits. There needs to be change — and a lot of it. Their gameplan hasn’t worked in almost a decade and a half now. With that said, here are a list of players who may have put on the pinstripes for the last time.
Gary Sánchez, Luke Voit, Anthony Rizzo, Gleyber Torres, Gio Urshela
Some of the names above may surprise you, others may not. This is the second consecutive year that Kyle Higashioka started over Gary Sánchez in the postseason and another season where The Kraken failed to produce consistently at the dish. He hasn’t had an above-average wRC+ since 2019 and has also seen his power numbers drop. We know he isn’t the best defensive catcher out there, so if he’s not hitting, what can he do? The Yankees have Sánchez set up with one knee down when catching to improve his framing, but he ranked in the 17th percentile for framing this year and was credited with eight passed balls — his highest mark in three years. If the Yankees still believe in Gary and want to give him another shot (perhaps due in part to an unimpressive free agent catching crop), they can probably live with that. But if not, it’s warranted to wave the white flag with him.
It seems to be a popular opinion that Voit’s days in New York are drawing to a close. His electric offensive output is negated by his inability to stay on the field, playing in only 68 games this season, and he’s a poor defender. Yes, the Yankees will miss his energy and passion, but there are better options out there and they can let Voit rejuvenate himself in a better spot. Perhaps they could make a call to the Oakland A’s about Matt Olson?
Speaking of trades, Anthony Rizzo, who was acquired from the Chicago Cubs at the trade deadline, is now a free agent. He didn’t necessarily do anything that would make the Yankees not want him back, but he is 32 and will have other teams calling both him and his agent over the winter. He’s a solid lefty bat and a very good defender. It would be nice to see him in pinstripes in 2022, but it is not a priority to have him back.
As for Gleyber Torres and Gio Urshela, their futures are unclear. Both had down years, especially Torres, but could both very well be in the Opening Day lineup come the end of March. I expect Torres to be the everyday second baseman next year, but could see them moving away from Urshela and/or signing one of the big ticket shortstops such as Corey Seager or Trevor Story. I wouldn’t say for sure that Torres and Urshela are going to be playing elsewhere next year, but it is very much on the table.
Brett Gardner, Miguel Andújar, Clint Frazier
The addition of Joey Gallo, on top of having Giancarlo Stanton able to field his position when needed in the outfield and the looming return of Aaron Hicks, puts the outfield in a good spot for next year. That leads us to the backup outfielders who could very well (and probably will) be traded and not brought back. Brett Gardner is 38, and I’m not sure if there’s a reason to bring him back. He was serviceable for the role he was thrusted into, but there are better options out there on the market (and perhaps even internally with Estevan Florial) who could play the same part as Gardy. Thank you for everything, Brett, but it may be time to hang ‘em up.
Remember Miguel Andújar and Clint Frazier? Once hailed as part of the future of the team, they have had a mighty fall from grace. Andújar has jumped around from the infield to outfield and hasn’t produced with his bat while also battling injuries. Frazier, to no fault of his own, has had struggles with vision and hasn’t been able to fully recover. When he was able to step on the field in the first half, he wasn’t much of a threat at the plate, either. Both Miggy and Red Thunder could easily find themselves on a different team in 2022.
Corey Kluber, Zack Britton
The pitching was very good overall for the Yanks in 2021, with a few blemishes here and there. Kluber was acquired over the offseason on a one-year prove it deal. He tossed a no-hitter and did have a decent season, but he’s 35 and did have injury issues this year — on top of major injuries in the last two as well. The Yankees could go out and find other arms who can give them innings, and do have internal options like Luis Gil, Clarke Schmidt, and others. (Andrew Heaney will blessedly be gone, too.)
Zack Britton will most likely miss the entire 2022 season with an elbow injury. He is under contract for next season, so the Yankees would need to find a solution for that if they want him to remain a Yankee for the future.
It’s been years since the Yankees have gone deep enough to compete for and hoist the Commissioner’s Trophy. It’s been far too long for a team of the Yankees’ stature. Change needs to happen this offseason, without a doubt. The plan they’ve laid out has not worked for over a decade and they need a jolt of energy again — The Rays, Red Sox, and most importantly the Blue Jays are not going anywhere. Finishing as a Wild Card team and underachieving year after year is no longer acceptable. This team needs to win and needs to win now.