2021 flew by, and now that we have flipped the calendar to 2022, we can start thinking about the Yankees’ new year resolutions. There are, hopefully, a lot of players to sign or trade for once owners and players agree on a new CBA deal, because the roster is not finished.
These five things should be high in the Yankees’ priorities for the new year:
5. Sign a top shortstop
Yes, the Yankees are reportedly considering a short-term stopgap at the shortstop position, as they wait for either Oswald Peraza and Anthony Volpe to be ready at some point in 2022 or 2023. As talented as those two are, prospects don’t always pan out, and the Bombers could end up regretting that approach.
The offseason started with five top shortstops available via free agency. Two of them remain in the market: Carlos Correa and Trevor Story. Failing to secure one of them could be problematic in a very competitive AL East.
4. “Rescue” Gleyber, Gallo, Gary, and DJ
DJ LeMahieu was an average hitter in 2021, with a 100 wRC+, but slugged just .362. Gleyber Torres, the one who hit 24 and 38 homers in his first two seasons in MLB, had just nine last year, with a .366 slugging percentage. After being a comfortably above-average hitter with the Texas Rangers, Joey Gallo struggled to the tune of a .160/.303/.404 line with the Yankees after coming near the deadline. And Gary Sánchez hit .204 and had a 99 wRC+.
The Yankees’ offense as a whole was a problem, ranging from average to slightly below-average depending on the metric you choose. Fixing those four former offensive stalwarts would go a long way in improving the unit’s outlook. New hitting coach Dillon Lawson will have his hands full with the formerly fearsome foursome of hitters. His analytics-driven approach and experience working with tech resources has the Yankees full of optimism.
3. Keep Luis Severino healthy
After the 2018 season, Luis Severino was on top of the world, finishing that year with a 3.39 ERA in 191.1 innings. A series of unfortunate injuries robbed him most of the 2019 campaign, when he pitched 12 frames, and Tommy John surgery erased his 2020 season. Several setbacks delayed his 2021 and limited him to just six innings.
He has been through a lot, but is currently healthy and expected to be a major player in the 2022 rotation. However, the Yankees should be careful not to overtax his right arm. Expecting 170 innings would be foolish, and it will be interesting to see what’s in store for him as the organization will prioritize getting him to October in one piece without the assurance of a playoff berth given the competitive outlook of the American League.
2. Bring in at least two starters
Knowing Severino’s situation, Corey Kluber’s absence (he signed with the Tampa Bay Rays), and given that Nestor Cortes Jr. is relatively unproven, the Yankees would be smart to add to their rotation. Domingo Germán hasn’t progressed as hoped, and the same is true for Deivi García.
Behind Gerrit Cole, the Yankees have Jordan Montgomery, Jameson Taillon (who is a question mark for Opening Day after ankle surgery), Cortes, and Sevy. After that, the situation isn’t looking particularly good, so a couple of reinforcements are needed.
1. Go to the World Series
The Yankees haven’t played in the World Series since 2009. Although a 13-year wait wouldn’t be surprising for most teams, it’s been a long one for such a historically successful franchise. Indeed, the stretch from 2009 to the present now ranks as the third-longest drought in franchise history, behind only the Don Mattingly Era and the 18 years it took for the Yankees to win their first pennant in 1921. While these Yankees have advanced to a couple of American League Championship Series in the last five years (2017 and 2019), it’s clear that there is something missing in the roster.
With their current personnel, the Yankees face a tough rough to get to the Fall Classic. They will need to be active when the lockout ends, because if they play their cards right, there could be a path towards serious contention and a World Series ticket in 2022. That’s the ultimate New Year’s resolution: Return to the most important series of the year.