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Five New Year’s resolutions for the Yankees

Let’s kick off 2024 with some lofty goals for the Bombers.

Times Square New Year’s Eve 2024 Celebration Photo by Taylor Hill/WireImage

I hope everyone enjoyed their New Year’s Day! It seems like 2023 flew by, though for stretches during the Yankees season it couldn’t go by fast enough. In order to avoid a similar fate, let’s go over five New Year’s resolutions for the team.

5. Acquire at least another inning-eating starter before Opening Day

The disappointment of watching Yoshinobu Yamamoto sign with Dodgers is still a raw wound in fan’s minds, one that likely won’t start to heal until the team addresses a starting rotation which went 32-46 with a 5.06 ERA behind Gerrit Cole. With the departures of Luis Severino, Frankie Montas, Domingo Germán, Michael King, Jhony Brito, and Randy Vásquez via free agency and trade, the team has to find arms to replace those 432 innings from 2023. Some simple math suggests, then, that the team needs at minimum two more starters just to get through the regular season.

4. Graduated top prospects take significant steps in development

Top prospects Anthony Volpe, Jasson Domínguez, and Austin Wells all made their debuts to varying success in 2023. In the context of the players the Yankees eschewed in free agency while keeping the shortstop job warm for their top prospect, Volpe’s rookie year was not good enough, finishing with the second-worst OBP (.283) and 13th-highest strikeout rate (27.8 percent) of any qualified hitter. Domínguez homered off Justin Verlander with his first big league swing and added three more in the ensuing seven games, but required Tommy John surgery to his throwing elbow and might be back around the All-Star break. Wells turned it on at the end of the year, with four home runs and a 229 wRC+ in his final eight games. All three will be expected to form the core of the Yankees offense in the future, if not down the stretch in 2024, and must break out of the worrying trend of the Yankees’ top position player prospects seeing their hit tools degrade upon establishing in the majors.

San Francisco Giants v New York Yankees Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

3. Star power lead the way

With question marks of varying size peppering the Yankees’ roster, the team needs their superstars to carry weight for stretches during the season. This means Aaron Judge must remain healthy and continue to produce the way he has his entire career when on the field. Gerrit Cole must follow up his Cy Young campaign with another workhorse ace performance. Perhaps most importantly, Juan Soto must take some of the pressure of Judge, setting the table (and an example to his new teammates) with his unmatched on-base ability.

2. Healthy and productive seasons from trio of veterans

It may be misguided to rely on Giancarlo Stanton, DJ LeMahieu, and Anthony Rizzo to provide a significant chunk of the team’s offensive production. However, the chain of roster building decisions over the last five offseasons has led the team to the point where the 2024 season may live or die on the performances of that troika of mid-thirties veterans. There are reasons to be optimistic that each can rebound to above-average production. Rizzo was raking before the concussion he suffered when Fernando Tatis Jr. ran into him at first on May 28th. LeMahieu finally looked to be hitting his stride with a 128 wRC+ in the second half. Stanton has been in the lab all winter working on his swing and is looking to get leaner before the start of the season. Fingers crossed.

New York Yankees vs Baltimore Orioles Set Number: X164033 TK1

1. Go all-in on 2024

If there is one thing that has characterized the way the Yankees front office operates over much of the last decade, it’s that ownership refuses to go all-in on any one season, preferring to maintain payroll flexibility as long as the team has a decent shot of making the playoffs. Well, they just missed the playoffs for the first time in seven years, and with Judge’s and Cole’s prime years dwindling and Soto under contract for just this season, what better time to make a concerted push for a title in the current era of the organization? The team has yet to spend a single dollar in free agency and also has a handful of their higher-end prospects remaining to perhaps pull off a trade for an impact starting pitcher.

Bonus: Carlos Rodón returns to form

Yesterday, Estavão provided a New Year’s resolution for each club in the AL East. The goal he set for the Yankees concerned a bounce back campaign from Carlos Rodón, and in truth this too would be near the top of my list for the organization. After the team missed out on Yamamoto, it became all the more critical that Rodón pitch like the top-end starter — the one who pitched to 2.67 ERA, producing the third-most fWAR (11.1) of any starter between 2021 and 2022 — the Yankees imagined they were getting when inking the southpaw to a six-year, $162 million last winter. I’ll also throw a rebound campaign from Nestor Cortes in here as well, given the pair of lefties form part of the foundation of the Yankees’ pitching plans in 2024.