The Yankees have been active this offseason, adding Aroldis Chapman, Starlin Castro and Aaron Hicks via trade. Are those moves enough to help their MLB odds next season?
The Yankees didn't sign any free agent and the players that they traded for don't address their lack of starting rotation depth. The team spent around $500 Million to bring in Masahiro Tanaka, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran during the 2013-2014 offseason but it seems that their current plan is to try to fill their holes by using their farm system to either come up with intriguing trades or directly fill their 25-man roster. Will the team's determination to not spend money and rely on aging players and unproven youngsters help them contend in 2016?
Sure, this team still has big name stars on their roster like Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran and Jacoby Ellsbury, and the potential lineup combinations that manager Joe Girardi can use are decent, but the success of this area relies too much on fully healthy seasons from veterans that have to get back on track like Ellsbury, Gardner and Beltran. Having Starlin Castro at second base will help on offense and defense but he also has a lot to prove.
Above Average Defense
Starlin Castro and Didi Gregorius at second base and shortstop are a nice combination that will likely save some runs, we all know that Mark Teixeira is an amazing defender and Chase Headley has struggled offensively but his glove has kept him on this team.
Jacoby Ellsbury will get most of the starts at center field, Brett Gardner's speed can make a difference at left field and Carlos Beltran will likely start at right field if healthy, with Aaron Hicks ready to play all three positions. Not a bad outfield at all.
Brian McCann is one of the best catchers in baseball for a reason, so that position is well-covered as long as he is healthy. Defense will not be the downfall of this team but there's room for improvement.
Questionable Starting Rotation
This is New York's biggest weakness. Masahiro Tanaka's health, the decline of C.C. Sabathia and the inconsistency of Ivan Nova makes Nathan Eovaldi, Michael Pineda and Luis Severino extremely important because they have to keep the rotation going until some of the question marks surrounding Tanaka, Sabathia and Nova are resolved. Another solid season from Eovaldi will help mask New York's potential shortcomings.
Trading for Aroldis Chapman gives the Yankees one of the scariest bullpens in baseball. The former Reds closer will join left-hander Andrew Miller and right-hander Dellin Betances in the late innings. Chapman had a 2.17 career ERA and 146 saves in 164 chances with 546 strikeouts in 319 innings in six seasons with the Reds. Chapman, Miller and Betances were the top three strikeout relievers in the Majors and they could significantly shorten games next season and take some of the pressure off New York's starting pitchers.
The New York bench will include Gary Sanchez or Austin Romine as the backup catcher, along with Aaron Hicks, Dustin Ackley and Rob Refsnyder, who could be starters on many teams.
Greg Bird, one of the top prospects for the Yankees and someone that was expected to play a key role this season, recently had surgery for a torn labrum in his right shoulder and he will likely miss the whole 2016 season.
Bird hit .261 with 11 home runs and 31 RBIs in 157 at-bats last season. Will New York be able to get a solid contribution from whoever replaces him. That will be one of the keys to the team's success next season.
World Series Chances
Reaching the playoffs is not out of the question but the current roster has a lot of holes and question marks at key positions. If everyone lives up to their potential then this team could be great and surprise many but that's a big If... There's still time for the Yankees to make some moves, so let's wait and see if they find a way to improve their team even more before Spring Training.