Following an ALDS exit to the Tampa Bay Rays, the New York Yankees are now facing an 11-year drought since their last World Series appearance. Despite reaching the postseason on eight occasions during that span, it’s clear that New York has struggled to execute during the home stretch.
After the shortened 2020 season, all teams will be forced to make difficult decisions regarding the future of their organization. For the Yankees, it won’t be any different. Here, we discuss the three biggest questions facing New York during the offseason:
Future of the pitching staff
Specifically with the starting pitching staff, the 2021 Yankees roster will inevitably look different. At this time, Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, and J.A. Happ are projected to become free agents. Last season, they accounted for 43.6% of innings pitched among team starters.
While New York could explore the option of re-signing key names, there are some eye-catching players that are expected to hit free agency. Some of the talents will include Trevor Bauer, Robbie Ray, and Marcus Stroman.
Last season, Gerrit Cole’s 94 strikeouts ranked sixth in the MLB. However, the next-highest individual for the Yankees was Jordon Montgomery (47), who finished 70th among players in the same category.
Price tag of DJ LeMahieu
After back-to-back seasons in which DJ LeMahieu has contended as the American League MVP, the most recent season only increased his current market value. During the regular season, he led the league in batting average (.364), on-base percentage (.421), and OPS (1.011).
As a result, LeMahieu is expected to become one of the top free agents on the free agency market. He will likely be valued at a four-year, $64 million deal; paying him $16 million annually. That total would make him the third-highest paid second baseman moving forward.
Expectations for Gary Sanchez
After a disappointing season, the Yankees will be facing a difficult decision regarding their commitment to Gary Sanchez. He was last on the team this year among starters in batting average (.147) and on-base percentage (.253) while finishing with the most strikeouts (64).
Kyle Higashioka, who made 48 plate appearances this season, proved to be the better defensive catcher and even developed into the personal catcher of Cole. While his .250 batting average and four home runs won’t stand out, he is a serviceable and affordable option moving forward.
The front office won’t pay for a free agent talent such as J.T. Realmuto, but there should be a serious consideration in seeking out trade partners for Sanchez. In each of the last two seasons, his strike rate has been among the worst in the MLB.