Yankees Offseason in Review Part I

With spring training right around the corner, it is time to take a look at the Yankee’s offseason.  Perhaps a different type of offseason than Yankee fans have been accustomed too, there were no splashy signings but rather a lot of moves to infuse young talent into the organization. In most cases, the players acquired will provide little to the team in 2015.  These moves instead were made with eyes set on the years to come when players such as CC Sabathia, A-Rod, and Texeira come off the books.  As the team gets older and further distance itself from the dynasty that revolved around the Core 4, Cashman finally took the initiative to make the team younger and get cheap talent with little MLB service time.  Although it is hard to project what these prospects might do in the future, perhaps they can be the core of the next Yankee dynasty. At least it is nice to feel that optimistic about your team. Will be interesting to see how the offense performs now that Kevin Long’s tenure with the Yankees is over. Let’s begin taking a look at the offseason additions and subtractions this year.

 Offseason Additions

• Garrett Jones

• Domingo German

• Johnny Barbato

• Didi Gregorious

• Nathan Eovaldi

• Andrew Miller

• Chase Headley

• Chris Capuano

• Chris Young

• Stephen Drew

The Yankees did go out this offseason and award contract extensions to Chris Capuano, Chris Young, Chase Headley, and Stephen Drew.  At the moment it appears that Stephen Drew will either be the opening day 2B, until Rob Refsnyder or Jose Pirela take it from him, or competing with Brendan Ryan to be the backup infielder on the bench.  Regardless where Drew finds himself  in the lineup, there is reason to be optimistic about him. Considering he has a slash line of .150/.219/.271 and an OPS+ of 39 (100 is league average) with the team, it is hard to do anything but get better. Chris Capuano appears to be a 4th or 5th starter, could get bumped out of the rotation when Nova returns.  Chris Young will be the 4th outfielder, and considering the durability of the starting 3, he should receive many PA’s. The Yankees would hope to get a performance similar to the one he provided in his 2014 stint with the club.

Chase Headley receive a 4/$52M deal this season, the biggest contract the Yankees gave this offseason. Headley will be the Opening Day 3B for the Bronx Bombers.  Known more so for his good defense, it was nice for Yankee fans to see Headley’s offense improve significantly while with the team. While a Yankee, Headley had a 12.9% walk rate, significantly up from the 7.2% he had with the Padres. That could be an aberration, although this year he had his lowest walk rate in the past 3 years.  He had an OPS+ of 119 but had a slugging % under .400 with the team. His slugging % did go up 43 points while with the Yankees, so maybe we can expect him to hit more than the 13 homers he has hit in each of the past 2 seasons.

Andrew Miller comes to the team after having a breakout year in 2014. Signed to a 4/$36M deal, Miller cut his BB/9 in half, had less than 5 H/9, had nearly 15 SO/9, and had his SO/W double. He had an ERA+ of 193 and was a key reliever in the Orioles postseason run. Now with the Yanks he is more likely to be moved to the closer spot, with Dellin Betances being the setup man yet again.

Didi Gregorious is expected to be the starting SS heading into the 2015 season, now that Jeter’s Farewell Tour has come to an end. Although Didi has not done to well offensively in the majors, he did hit .310 in Triple A this year and had a higher OPS+ than the Captain this year. He also comes with better range and better defense as a whole in comparison to Jeter’s final season. He might not become as legendary as the Captain, but Didi is a young SS with some promise.  At the least he is a very low cost player who is under team control for 4 more seasons, and can provide as an adequate placeholder at the worst.

Garrett Jones appears to be in competition with A-Rod for the DH spot, and will be the backup 1B.  In all likelihood, Girardi puts Jones and A-Rod in a platoon with Jones hitting against righties. Not superb defensively, but should not hurt the Yanks on the field much when he is expected to spend the bulk of his playing time at DH. He is 2 years away from his career year back in 2012, Jones doesn’t bring much on the table offensively. He has been pretty durable though, playing a minimum of 144 games in each of the past 5 seasons.

Domingo German is a SP who had a solid season in Single A in 2014, going 9-3 with a 2.48 ERA.  He seems to have promise, being in the low minors though it is hard to determine how he would fair in the big leagues.  Johnny Barbato is a young left handed reliever, who saved 16 games in Double A with the Padres last year. At the moment he seems to have a good year every other year, similar to the San Francisco Giants the past few years.  If he becomes consistent from year to year he can be a very solid reliever down the road.

Nathan Eovaldi is likely to slot up as the 3 or 4th starter heading into Opening Day, but it all depends on the health of the starters. Eovaldi appears to be a promising young starter, he has a very low walk rate last year and the advanced metrics seem to like him. He had a FIP of 3.37 last year, a full run lower that his ERA.  Eovaldi had the 4th highest BABIP of all qualified starting pitchers last year, which could go down in the smaller ballpark he will be playing in. Nathan also had the 10th best HR to FB ratio among qualified pitchers.  According to Fangraphs only Jose Quintana and Jeff Samardzija had a higher WAR among pitchers with a losing W-L record. The Yankee offense may have struggled through last season, but no starter with at least 15 starts had a losing record last year.

So maybe there were no marquee names signed by the Yankees this offseason.  That doesn’t mean the team can’t compete.  While many people look at the A-Rod circus as a negative, it actually is great in that it deflects pressure from other players by them not being in the spotlight as much.  Perhaps the Yankees may not make the playoffs for the 3rd straight year, but on paper at least we should find solace knowing that the roster isn’t any worse. We are just a few weeks away from a new season, and with the division wide open at the moment, there is no reason for us Yankee fans to doubt our team just yet.


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