Alright maybe not sweep the World Series. I do however have a plan that I believe would fix the team’s biggest flaws and do it without completely breaking the bank or depleting the farm.
- Grab a shortstop from this super free agent class. I would prefer to see us sign Seager who has proven he can play when the games count. He strikes out well below league average (16.1% in 2021, 18.5% career vs a roughly 22% league average) and is a lefty, two things this lineup desperately needs. He would make a great leadoff hitter to set up our big slugging righties. He does have his fair share of injury risk but looking at the other options, I would like to stay away from free-swinging Baez; Story had a rough year (by his standards); Correa has his own injury (and other) risks; Semien has had plenty of ups and downs in his career. So for me, Seager is the clear fit.
- Aquire a good everyday center fielder. I am not against signing Gritty Gardner on a cheap one year deal but NOT as a starter. He is a 5th outfielder at this point in his career behind 4th outfielder, Aaron Hicks, who has proven that he is not a full time player. Looking to the free agent market, Starling Marte will cost too much for too long at his age and Chris Taylor is not a good defender in center so we need to turn to the trade market. Looking at the 2022-23 free agent class, two names jump out right away. Number one is Byron Buxton. However he is Aaron Hicks’ extreme version. His talent is more extreme and his ability to get injured is more extreme. Maybe the two of them together could put up 150 starts in center? Doubtful. On top of his knack to get injured, there is no indication the Twins would trade him and I would not be shocked to see them extend him long term. The second name is Ketel Marte who has spent his career rotating between centerfield, second base and short stop. The defensive metrics are not so high on his defense in center but with more focus on the position he could become passable. He could also spend some time at short and second if needed. As a switch hitter who does not strike out much he would also be a great fit for the lineup. What would he cost? Arizona’s farm system has some top talent in Lawlar, Carroll and Thomas but lacks the depth of top systems. Pereira and Florial along with another top 20 prospect or two should move the needle and open up some 40 man roster options for Cashman.
- Sign a starter. We already have some nice depth behind Cole in Montgomery, Cortes, Taillon, German and Gil. Michael King has looked much better out of the bullpen so I hope to see him stay there. I still have hope for Deivi Garcia getting back to form since he is still only 22 years old and showed such poise and promise in 2020. That being said, we still need at least two more dependable starters if we want to win the East. Scherzer seemed to not want to come to New York plus he is probably too much cost for our self imposed budget. Stroman, Rodon, Gausman and Robbie Ray will most likely all get big contracts despite limited time as dominant pitchers which probably takes the Yankees out of the running. The most likely signing will be someone on shorter contract. Verlander, Kluber, Wood, Bundy, Gray, Paxton, Duffy and Syndergaard could all fit that bill but I would like us to grab a different former Met, Steven Matz. He had a solid year and I still think there is more potential in there than the results have showed so far. He probably gets more than a one year deal but will only turn 31 in May, making him one of the younger options. He was also not given a Qualifying Offer so the Yankees do not have to give up draft picks to sign him.
- Trade for a young controllable SP. Luis Castillo comes to mind. After starting off 2021 on the wrong foot, Castillo sure looked like the young ace we need. He will not be cheap when it comes to prospects but maybe a package of Peraza, Gil and another top 10-15 organizational starting pitching prospect could get it done. Castillo is one of the few players I would be okay moving Volpe for if necessary. The Reds are clearly motivated to move salary as seen this past weekend when they let a $10M Miley go to the division rival, Cubs, for nothing in return so he should be moved sometime this winter.
So at this point in my plan we have gone out and acquired Corey Seager, Ketel Marte, Steven Matz and Luis Castillo. With those moves I am happy with the roster.
Stanton could play right and left fields when Judge and Gallo need days off freeing up the DH for Voit. Urshela will spell Seager at short when he needs a day off. Add in days off for Urshela, Torres and Voit and DJ still plays in 140-150 games as a super utility player, like was intended when we signed him. I would not be opposed to a new back up catcher but Higgy could do just fine to fill out the bench with Wade, Hicks and Gardner. I would love to see a better ‘all-around’ catcher than Gary suit up each day but the catching free agent market is baron and the trade market does not look promising either so I would rather focus on other needs that have obvious upgrades available.
On the pitching side Cole, Castillo, Montgomery, Cortes and Matz make a nice one through five with German, Taillon and Deivi Garcia waiting in the wings. Chapman, Loaisiga and Green are an enviable three to close out a game with. Holmes, Luetge and Wandy all showed real improvement this year and should be able to contribute. On top of that the Yankees showed their pitching depth this year with young arms like Abreu, King, Ridings and Schmidt ready to help the team in 2022. If they do not look to develop him as a starting pitcher, Sean Boyle is my pick to be the young arm that comes up and establishes himself as a late inning option.
So now that the roster is complete let’s finish off my wish list with three coaching moves.
- Hire a top notch bench coach. Okay we have Boone for 3 more years. He is supposedly loved in the clubhouse (and definitely loved upstairs) and did a great job navigating through an injury plagued 2019 and a pandemic laden 2020. With that being said it seems like every game Boone does something that makes you scratch your head. This is where a bench coach with some experience could help with the in game decision making. I would love to see an old school type come in and balance out the analytics. My vote would be to call up the Yes Network and see if Showalter would be interested in getting out of the studio and back in the dugout. Him and Boone could make quite the nice duo. I think back to the dynasty days and can not picture the dugout being the same with out Don Zimmer.
- Hire a batting coach that could help improve contact rates. The lineup has a knack for laying off pitches out of the zone and comes with a ton of pop. They had the 4th best O-Swing% (how often they swing at pitches out of the zone) in the majors to go along with the third best exit velocity and fourth highest barrel rate. However the big flaw the offense had was how often they would come up empty when taking a hack, which lead to them having the second worst Z-Contact% (how often they make contact when swinging at pitches in the zone) in the majors.
- Finally we need a third base coach that is willing to take risks but only in the right situations. I know this sounds obvious but after the Wild Card game fiasco at home plate there are a lot of fans who want a third base coach that will hold everyone back from rounding home on close plays. That would hurt us just as much as a coach that sends twenty plus runners to die at the plate. For this one I dont have a suggestion, just a hope. Cashman needs to use his analytics team to find an edge and grab a coach that is okay taking a risk but is also efficient in their risk taking.
If it seems like a lot, I know. However this team needs a lot to become a serious contender past October 2, 2022. I also think that while this is a lot, it is extremely doable. Two big trades and two big signings along with some coaching improvements could really change how the next season ends. So do you think this plan is enough? What moves would you like to see happen and which would you not? Any suggestions for coaches? Let me know what you think in the comment section!