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Yankees fans think failing to acquire a left fielder was Brian Cashman’s worst move

This week, we asked Yankees fans about the club’s worst moves from last winter, and they highlighted the decision to leave left field barren.

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MLB: Washington Nationals at New York Yankees Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to SB Nation Reacts, a survey of fans across Major League Baseball. Each week, we send out questions to the most plugged-in New York Yankees fans, and fans across the country. Sign up here to join Reacts.

With the Yankees reduced to playing out the string, we’re looking both forwards and backwards these days. This week, we rolled back the clock to last offseason, and asked fans to opine on where the Yankees most went wrong in constructing this disappointing ball club.

There were plenty of compelling candidates that had a case as the Yankees’ worst move from the winter. As a reminder: “Re-signing Brian Cashman for four years” was intentionally not used in this poll because it’s a little too obvious, and we were curious about his actual moves.

It ended up as a neck-and-neck race between a couple of glaring mistakes:

Kyle Thele

Just barely taking this ignominious crown is the Yankees’ decision to neglect left field. The team did try to address the situation, kicking the wheels on a Bryan Reynolds trade and pursuing free agent Andrew Benintendi (whose 2023 has not turned out great, either). But when the dust settled, they were left with an unproven Oswaldo Cabrera and a washed-up Aaron Hicks as their primary options in left field. In related news, the Yankees have gotten a combined 81 wRC+ out of their left fielders this year, the third-worst mark in the majors.

Of course, there was stiff competition from the choice to roll with Josh Donaldson. The veteran’s bat went quiet in 2022, and in 2023, he could barely buy a base-hit in between injuries. He hit for power, but Donaldson’s batting average plummeted to .142 this year, leading the Yankees to release him on Tuesday.

It stands to reason the decisions to bring in Carlos Rodón and Luis Severino did not cause as much ire. The Rodón move very well could prove to be a bust, but even so, his signing was the kind of big, expensive swing we want to see from the Yankees. Similarly, Severino showed ace upside in 2022, and his 2023 team option was far from onerous. It was impossible to see his implosion this season coming, and it would seem harsh to consider bringing him back to be a particularly poor offseason choice.

All those decisions helped add up to a miserable campaign, one that almost definitely won’t involve Yankee playoff baseball. If/when the Yankees miss out, will fans still tune in?

Kyle Thele

Most Yankees fans say they’ll tune in for at least some or all of the postseason, but about a third of respondents indicated they wouldn’t watch at all. Whether that’s due to disinterest in the rest of the league, or to the bittersweet nature of watching playoffs that we so eagerly expected the Yankees to be a part of, may depend upon the viewer.

Now, onto our leaguewide polls. Let’s start simple: who do MLB fans think will win the World Series?

Kyle Thele

These results definitely track. The Braves are obvious favorites, and over 40 percent of respondents said they’d win it all. But that so many other teams garnered a fair bit of support accurately reflects the wild nature of playoff baseball. Even if Atlanta has the best team, there’s a very real chance the Dodgers, Orioles, Astros, or some other club steps up and wins it.

Of course, aside from the pennant races, the topic that’s on everyone’s mind is that of Shohei Ohtani. The superstar’s UCL injury obviously throws a monkey wrench into his upcoming free agency.

Kyle Thele
Kyle Thele

Just about half of MLB fans said that Ohtani’s elbow problems would scare them off of signing him. It’s a bit of a surprising figure, as even though the potential for a second Tommy John surgery throws Ohtani’s two-way abilities into doubt, he’s still a tremendously valuable player just as a hitter.

In that vein, nearly half of respondents said they’d still offer Ohtani $200 million if he could only DH. That’s reflective of his immense abilities, and also hints at what Ohtani could still be capable of. Perhaps he’ll never be a dominant starting pitcher again, but there’s certainly a chance he could one day return as a solid starter. Or maybe he’ll morph into a DH/high-leverage reliever hybrid. Still other options abound, such as Ohtani learning to play an outfield position, a role he clearly has the raw tools, if not the experience, to handle. Any of those possibilities mean Ohtani’s still highly deserving of a deal well in excess of $200 million.

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