Barring a stunning comeback, the New York Yankees will start their offseason in the next few days (or even hours), and it will be amid more hysteria than usual. The team’s demise has come in an unseemly fashion; their offense has deserted them. In the first three games of the American League Championship series against the Detroit Tigers, the Yanks have scored five runs and have been shutout in 28 of the 30 innings. In addition, once perennial all-star 3B Alex Rodriguez has been benched due to a horrid slump and shortstop (and face of the franchise) Derek Jeter was carried off the field in game one with a season ending ankle fracture.
From a roster construction point of view, the Yankees are two things that no team ever wants to be: old and expensive. The Yanks payroll is nearly 200 million dollars, more than twice what most teams spend on salaries. And the lineup is by baseball standards old. Two 29-year olds, 2B Robinson Cano and C Russell Martin, constitute the “youth” in the New York lineup. This is a very complicated position to try and retool from.
The Yankees front office shouldn’t panic. The team won 95 games this season, more than any other American League club. They shouldn’t scrap six months of success due to six days of struggle. The Yankees were remarkably consistent this season posting a team on base percentage of .336 before the all star break and .338 afterward for a total mark that was second in the American League.
The Yankees pitching has done fine in the postseason and next season they will choose a rotation from C.C. Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Petite, Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda. Presuming Mariano Rivera returns, their bullpen will be one of the most feared in the majors.
Rumors are swirling that the Yanks will pay some team upwards of 100 million dollars to absorb Rodriguez’s enormous contract, and it makes some sense since he’s devolved into a platoon player at this point, and his offense or at least offensive potential could be replaced by a free agent signing of some sort (the Yanks have holes in the OF corners and DH, both easy spots to fill).
But one free agent signing and a trade hardly amounts to a dramatic overhaul. Instead, it’s a routine offseason for the New York Yankees, which whenever it arrives, is what they need.