The 2017 Yankees season is over, so now it’s time to look back and note the winners and losers of this long, arduous journey. While we could sit here and divide the entire roster up into two different groups, we’re here to revisit only the biggest winners and the lowest losers.
The Youth Movement - The Yankees saw an influx in young players make their debut this year, and it’s clear that the movement has been a surprising success thus far. Aaron Judge put together an MVP-caliber season, Gary Sanchez was an All-Star, Luis Severino established himself as an ace in the making, and Jordan Montgomery did far better in the majors than anyone expected.
Even Greg Bird, who was lost for a majority of the season, proved to be a winner in the end. He was ticketed for a spot on the losing side of things until he finally found his way onto the field and managed to hit well over the last two months. If the injuries are truly out of the way for him, Greg Bird could be an All-Star next year.
Masahiro Tanaka - Things were really ugly for him about halfway through the year, but a second half resurgence helped him save face. Tanaka has an opt out clause that will allow him to forgo the last three seasons on his contract in order to hit the free agent market this winter. People were wondering whether he would even bother opting out and simply choose to be “stuck” with the $67 million still owed to him.
Following the strong finish he had toward the end of the season, we can be assured that Tanaka will indeed opt out, and someone will pay him. However, now maybe the Yankees will have interest in bringing him back. He’s still only 28, so a reasonable free agent deal shouldn’t be too bad for this team to take on.
Todd Frazier, David Robertson, and Tommy Kahnle - Brian Cashman made another fantastic trade at the deadline this year by acquiring Frazier, Robertson, and Kahnle. Not only did the deal work out well for the Yankees in the second half of the season and in the postseason, but it also helped each of them escape suffering on the south side of Chicago.
All three were instantly transported from a White Sox team that finished 67-95 on the year, to an organization that very nearly reached the World Series. Robertson and Kahnle will be back for more next season, but Frazier will hit the free agent market. After seeing what he can do in the playoffs, teams are going to want a piece of him even more than they already did.
Other Winners: Didi Gregorius, CC Sabathia, Chad Green
Joe Girardi - This ended up being a tough year for the Yankees skipper, and it ultimately cost him his job. Tension over the handling of Chris Carter reportedly drove a wedge between him and Brian Cashman that never recovered. The front office was also unhappy with the way he clung to his binder without any ability to adjust mid-game.
It’s possible the decision to not bring him back was already made before his replay gaff in Game 2 of the ALDS against the Cleveland Indians, but there’s no way it helped. At that moment he lost the clubhouse, and the entire fanbase turned on him in an instant. Things didn’t end well for him, but you can be sure he will land on his feet no matter where he ends up.
Jacoby Ellsbury - Each year that goes by is another that we get to spend regretting the Jacoby Ellsbury contract. The Yankees continue to receive nothing close in terms of value for what they are paying him each year. This season was better than the last two, but at this point that’s only by default because 2017 was bad in its own ways.
Ellsbury suffered a concussion early in the season that seemed to sap his abilities for much of the year. He ended the season on a particularly high note, but when it was all said and done, he only had two above-average months with the bat, and on top of that he basically lost his starting job in center to Aaron Hicks before he went down with his own injury. It’s not what you want from a guy owed $64 million over the next three seasons.
Dellin Betances - This was Dellin’s worst season since his emergence as a bullpen god in 2014, and it’s a troubling predicament for all parties involved. While he was more inconsistent than outright bad, his control problems resurfaced in a big way this year. By the end of the season it was clear that he was completely gassed, which has been an ongoing issue with him for awhile now.
It might be time for us all to realize that it’s been years since he was a starting pitcher, and he no longer has the stamina to be a 90-inning a year pitcher. His innings totals have dropped steadily each season, and his control has fluctuated. The Yankees have already shown a history of unwillingness to pay Betances any more than they have to, so this season won’t help him with that yearly salary fight.
Those are the biggest winners and losers of the 2017 season. Who do you think should have made the list? Let us know in the comments!
Other Losers: Starlin Castro, Michael Pineda, Matt Holliday