Can the Yankees Make One Final Splash?
General Manager Brian Cashman has kept it interesting this offseason in the Bronx. The Juan Soto trade alone was enough to suck me back into the crazy mindset that the Yankees will be serious World Series contenders in 2024. Let’s look at what the Yankees have and what they still need to do to be put over the top, if even possible given the remaining free agency market.
The 2024 Yankee Lineup will look somewhat like this…
DJ LeMahieu (3B)
Juan Soto (OF)
Aaron Judge (OF)
Anthony Rizzo (1B)
Gleyber Torres (2B)
Alex Verdugo (OF)
Giancarlo Stanton (DH)
Anthony Volpe (SS)
Austin Wells (C)
On paper, this lineup is loaded and I would not want to be the pitcher having to take the mound to go against this roster. The term “on paper” couldn’t be stressed enough here. LeMahieu is a career .292 hitter but is coming off his worst year in the majors. At age 35 will he be able to regain form and be a formidable leadoff hitter? I sure hope so. Juan Soto and Aaron Judge might be the best 2-3 combo in the league…yes there are several great combos out there, but my choice would be Soto and Judge.
Rizzo is an exceptional ball player and defender at first base. Rizzo is a lefty which is a huge asset for Yankee Stadium and that short right-field fence. Last season was a nightmare scenario for Rizzo, as he was dealing with a very serious lingering concussion. He probably should have sat out for longer than he did as I think it affected him in a significant way. I am optimistic for Rizzo to regain form and have another productive year in pinstripes.
Gleyber Torres is 27 years young and is coming off his best season since 2019. Yankee fans should be stoked as landing on a second baseman who can hit 20+ HRs in a season is tough to do. Torres is a great option to deploy anywhere in the middle of the lineup. Verdugo is interesting, I do not care much for Verdugo but he is a career .280 hitter. Cannot complain about that…it’s the off-field stuff I worry about. It hasn’t been that big deal of a deal, but @SkippsviewDean has talked on the podcast about Verdugo and some of the drama up in Boston so I won’t be shocked to hear if some locker room drama involving him comes up at some point.
Finally, we find ourselves at the 7-9 slots in the lineup. Between a former MVP and two rising youngsters, I am pretty satisfied with what the Yankees are putting out there daily. Stanton didn’t hit his weight last year which is no good but there is still power there, at least enough for 24 bombs in 2023. Volpe is a 20-20 player after year 1 in the bigs and Wells was okay through 19 games. All in all, satisfied with the lineup Cashman has assembled.
Photo Credit: Rich Schultz/Getty Images
Now let us talk about the arms. The Yankees in a shocking move added Marcus Stroman this off-season to address some of the issues in the rotation.
Following that move the 2024 Yankees Starting Rotation should look like this…
At first glance again, not bad. Cole is a STUD and coming off his 1st Cy Young Award. Carlos Rodon couldn’t have had a worse entrance into the New York portion of his career dealing with injuries and lackluster performance. If I were a betting man, I’d say Rodon is due for a lot of progression and we should see better stuff coming from Rodon in 2024. Let’s not forget Rodon was an All-Star in 2021 & 2022.
Marcus Stroman was surprisingly signed for 2 years where he will be paid $37M. Not too shabby for Mr. Stroman. I say “surprisingly” as he has had beef with the Yankees organization in the past and I just didn’t think the two parties would ever strike a deal to work together. He is a solid pitcher and one of the better 3-slot pitchers in the game. He owns a career 3.65 ERA and hopefully, he can keep hitters in the ballpark at Yankee Stadium. Makes sense they went and signed a starter as they need 1 maybe even 2 to compete this year and given the Soto, Judge, and Cole timelines…the Yankees' time is now.
That leaves us with Clarke Schmidt and Nestor Cortes. Like the bottom of the lineup, I am not mad about this group. In fact, I am a bit optimistic! Schmidt owns a career 4.36 ERA through 4x MLB seasons and brings stability to the 4-slot. Cortes was injury-plagued last year with a left rotator strain almost all year. He managed to pitch 63.1 innings, but he and I both wish he didn’t. In 2022 Nestor was an All-Star. He has talent and an excellent fastball. Does he return to full form in the 5-slot? If so the Yankees are going to be a force to reckon with.
The rotation is there in my opinion. Ideally, I’d like to add one more starter either by grabbing a big-time player via trade or adding a free agent on a cheap/short deal. I’ll admit that I am a little disappointed with the Yanks not being more aggressive in signing Josh Hader. Hader just made sense to me, the Yankees bullpen is nasty and was responsible for the lowest regular season ERA in the bigs last year at a cumulative 3.34 ERA. As the Yankees do not have an elite reliever under contract, my thought was Hader would be the “over-the-top” addition to the bullpen in the upcoming season.
The Lineup looks good and that doesn’t include the Martian Jasson Dominguez who will return this season. The rotation is a piece away from being top 5-10 in the league (could be elite if all pieces pitch to potential), and the bullpen is rock-solid. New York is already at $302,291,666 in terms of total payroll for 2024.
Pay the tax and go all in! If I am Cashman I am going in to trade prospects (whatever it takes minus Spencer Jones) to land Corbin Burnes from the Milwaukee Brewers. I then go and look to spend more fun coupons to land the best reliever I can which is one of Daniel Hudson, Wandy Peralta, Jakob Junis, or Phil Maton. Please, Brian, I beg of you. Go get Corbin Burnes + a reliever and get us a World Series trophy this year!