The New York Yankees are the most successful and powerful franchise in the history of baseball and there is really no disputing it, given their incredible 27 World Series titles. In the 1990s and early 2000s, there were no teams that could really compete with the Yankees, as the franchise reeled off championships in 1996, 1998, 1999, and 2000 to form a dynasty that many Yankee haters referred to as the "Empire". In that time, the Yankees consistently got the better of their bitter rival, the Boston Red Sox until 2004 when the Red Sox came back in miraculous form to the beat the Yankees in the ALCS. The Red Sox would go on to win the World Series that year and the "Curse of the Bambino" was officially lifted.
Since that time, the Red Sox have arguably had more success and fame than the beloved Yankees, other than the Yankees title in 2009. But the Yankees are the king franchise of the baseball world whether you want to admit it or not. It's only a matter of time until they retake the MLB throne and that time is coming soon. The Yankees currently have one of the most intimidating lineups in recent history, chock-full with players that can do damage at any given moment like Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge. But clearly, the 2018 season was an indication that the Yankees need to make some more moves in order to overtake the Boston Red Sox in the AL East hierarchy.
If the Yankees can make the 10 moves expressed in this article, while also avoiding any catastrophic errors, it's likely that they will finish the 2019 season as World Champions.
20 Must Make: Sign Patrick Corbin
The first major point of business for the Yankees this offseason is going to be to address their pitching. We all know this team is a monster offensively already (although they will seek to find more consistency next season), but there is room for major upgrades to the starting pitching rotation. These upgrades will be necessary if the Yanks want to surpass the Boston Red Sox in the AL East standings next seasons.
The best available pitcher on the free agency market is Patrick Corbin. Not only is Corbin talented, but he is also young and just happens to have grown up in New York and is part of a family of die-hard Yankees fans. This pairing seems like a match made in heaven.
19 Avoid: Trading for Zack Greinke
If the Yankees are able to land Patrick Corbin as everybody expects, it may be tempting to also try and pry Corbin's Diamondback teammate, Zack Greinke with him. Greinke is one of the top pitchers of his generation and continues to produce at a high level. Even at age 34 last season, Greinke managed to win 15 games and post a 3.21 ERA for a Diamondback team that often struggled offensively. The D-backs have made it clear that Greinke is on the trading block, but the Yankees should avoid that bait. Although the Yankees need pitching, Greinke's contract is too burdensome, given his age. The Yankees would be better off looking for younger arms.
18 Must Make: Promote Jonathan Loaisiga
In order to build a truly dominant pitching staff, teams also have to draft well and develop their own in-house talent through their minor league systems. The Yankees certainly have a prospect who appears ready to blossom at the major league level in Jonathan Loaisiga. While he pitched a few games last season for the Yankees, it would be wise for the team to have him on the 25-man roster to start the season coming out of spring training. His stuff is electric and will make a perfect bullpen option for Aaron Boone in the mid-to-late portions of a ballgame.
17 Avoid: Starting Gary Sanchez
Gary Sanchez is a fantastic baseball player... when he wants to be. The biggest knock on him always seems to be his lack of interest or lack of motivation to be the best player he can be. Whatever the case was in 2018, Sanchez truly struggled at the plate. The fact that he hit only hit .186 on the season is mind-boggling and is a major concern for the Yankees staff.
If Sanchez can re-find his stroke in 2019, he could get his career back on track. But given the struggles of last season, the Yankees' current championship window, and his lack of hustle at times, it's time for the Yankees to go in another direction at the catcher position if they want to pass Boston.
16 Must Make: Trade for J.T. Realmuto
The best way to fix the Gary Sanchez issues (stated above) would be to include him in a trade to the Florida Marlins in exchange for All-Star caliber catcher J.T. Realmuto. The Marlins are deep in a rebuilding mode and would love to be able to cash in on a talent like Realmuto sooner rather than later. Although Gary Sanchez is arguably the more talented hitter when he is on, the question is whether or not he will ever return to his power-hitting form. Because of that risk, the Yankees may have to include a few younger prospects along with Sanchez in order to bring Realmuto into the Bronx. If they can do so, it will solidify their catching position and provide them with a top-notch offensive and defensive catcher.
15 Avoid: Bringing Back Andrew McCutchen
For some reason, Andrew McCutchen seems a lot older than he really is, doesn't he? It's surprising to realize that McCutchen will only be 32 years old next season. Moving on from that quick tangent, let's talk about McCutchen and the actual value he brings to a team like the Yankees. McCutchen is a veteran leader and former MVP winner who can provide big hits in timely situations. Is he a full-time starter? He shouldn't be if the Yankees actually want to surpass the Red Sox in 2019.
Given that the Yankees already re-signed Brett Gardner, there isn't enough room for another similar style veteran player in their outfield. Personally, however, I would have rather brought back McCutchen than Gardner if I were Brian Cashman.
14 Must Make: Bring Nathan Eovaldi Back to Bronx
One of the best ways to surpass a team like the Boston Red Sex is to steal away key pieces from their roster. Nathan Eovaldi was exceptional for the Red Sox in the second half of last season and was even more impressive in the playoffs. Most notably, Eovaldi single-handedly kept the Red Sox in it during the marathon Game 3 when he pitched six innings out of the bullpen. Eovaldi spent two lackluster seasons in New York in 2015 and 2016, but a comeback to the Bronx would be just what the doctor ordered for the Yankees. If the Yankees want to stockpile pitching talent in 2019, Eovaldi would be a good way to go... especially after he proved he can be highly valuable out of the bullpen if necessary.
13 Avoid: Keeping Jacoby Ellsbury On The Roster
There has been a lot of talk swirling in the MLB world that the Yankees and Mariners have discussed a Jacoby Ellsbury-for-Robinson Cano trade this offseason. This would be a solid move for the Yankees, although not for the reasons one may think. While Robinson Cano is still a very dangerous hitter, the real win here would be the Yankees finally getting rid of Jacoby Ellsbury.
Possibly one of the biggest busts in recent Yankee history, Ellsbury has seen his career quickly diminish due to injuries and inconsistency. Whether it's a trade or demotion, the Yankees cannot start the season with Ellsbury on their 25-man roster. Getting rid of the Ellsbury curse could be what the Yankees need to move past Boston again.
12 Must Make: Trade For Paul Goldschmidt
The Diamondbacks are entering a fire-sale offseason that should see them lose most of their core talent in an effort to restock their minor league system. Sadly, this likely means the Diamondbacks will have to part ways with their franchise first baseman, Paul Goldschmidt. Goldy, as he is often referred to, is an incredible player and has won multiple Silver Slugger awards and Gold Gloves already in his career, showing that he is an all-around player.
Although he is quiet and doesn't get much attention, Goldschmidt has finished top 3 in the NL MVP voting three times already and he is only 30 years old. Goldy would be a huge upgrade at first base and is a monster at getting on base (while also hitting a lot of dingers too). Landing a player of Goldschmidt's caliber could make the Yankees World Series favorites.
11 Avoid: Signing Jed Lowrie
There's been a lot of chatter about teams suddenly swooning over second baseman Jed Lowrie as a potential free agent this offseason. If the Yankees were wise, they would stay far away from the veteran infielder because he just doesn't make sense, given their roster makeup right now. The Yankees have youngster Gleyber Torres at second base and veteran shortstop Didi Gregorius at shortstop already on their roster. What would be the point of bringing in a guy like Jed Lowrie?
Torres hit a high average and pounded 24 home runs as a rookie in 2018 and Didi added another 27 long balls from the shortstop position. Clearly, the Yanks are set at the middle infield spots. Whether or not they want to admit it is a different story.
10 Must Make: Sign Clay Buchholz
Another long-time Boston starter that the Yankees could bring in to haunt their rival is Clay Buchholz. Although Buchholz took the league by storm when he threw a no-hitter in his first ever MLB start, many fans forgot about him as he has bounced in and out of many rosters. But the Diamondbacks signed Buchholz midway through last season and he was an absolute gem. In 16 starts in 2018, Buchholz went 7-2 and had a sparkling 2.01 ERA. His fierce demeanor on the mound and his ability to outsmart opposing hitters made it look easy for him last season before he suffered arm stiffness.
Injury concerns will be there, but Buchholz could be a bargain steal this offseason and the Yankees could use some of those, given the big bucks they are expected to spend on big-name players this winter.
9 Avoid: Depending on C.C. Sabathia
Originally, this article was going to state that the Yankees should avoid re-signing starting pitcher C.C. Sabathia but the Yankees went ahead and made that bonehead move already. Seriously, it's confusing why the Yankees feel they needed to re-sign Sabathia for 2019. Admittedly, Sabathia is still able to dominate at times and is generally pretty consistent during the regular season, but his conditioning always seems to see him trend downward as the season goes on.
Fortunately, Sabathia won't need to be the ace of the staff anymore and that will be big for the Yankees. If injuries or poor play occur and they find themselves depending on C.C. Sabathia to be an ace again, then there's no chance the Yankees pass the Red Sox next season.
8 Must Make: Let J.A. Happ Walk
Since the Yankees have already chosen to re-sign one aging veteran starting pitcher in C.C. Sabathia, they would be better off letting veteran J.A. Happ walk this offseason. The Yankees need changes in their pitching staff and Happ is not the answer moving forward. There are far better pitchers that will command around the same price that will be available in free agency and it will be up to the Yankees to capitalize on signing them. Happ is not going to scare any opposing lineups and the Yankees know this. If the Yankees want to catch the Red Sox nxt year, improving their pitching will be the key.
7 Avoid: Living Off Their Sacred History
On that note, the Yankees need to go out and make their best sales pitches to the free agents they want to acquire. It's no longer the days of old where players are magically drawn to the allure of the pinstripes. Matter of fact, it's arguable that the Red Sox franchise has since surpassed the Yankees in terms of being a desirable place to play, despite the 27 World Series titles the Yanks own.
The Yankees and Brian Cashman must be aggressive on the free agency market and be willing to open the checkbook to cash in on the major free agency players. Buying the best players is classic Yankees and they must get back to that, instead of assuming all players want to play in New York because that's just not the case anymore.
6 Must Make: Sign Kelvin Herrera
The MLB is consistently changing and one of the new trends involves the interesting usage of relief pitchers. The impact of strong relief pitching is monumental as it has the ability to significantly shorten a game in the sense that teams try to build a bullpen that can all but shut down opposing offenses from the sixth inning on nowadays. Another interesting tactic has been using a relief pitcher to throw the first inning or two of a game before allowing the starting pitcher to come in.
Having a guy like Kelvin Herrera, who has closer-like stuff, would give Aaron Boone a fun piece to work with in his bullpen. Could Boone choose to have Herrera throw the first two innings during C.C. Sabathia starts to keep hitters off-balance later in games? Regardless, a player like Herrera is always a good investment.
5 Must Avoid: Signing Manny Machado
The Yankees have two power-hitting middle infielders already on their roster. While Manny Machado is a huge fish in the free agency pond, he should not be a target for the Bronx Bombers at this point in time. Not only would Machado not be a great fit in New York, but his negotiations would also significantly distract and hinder the Yankees ability to sign other players that could be considered more necessary.
Seriously, for as good as Machado is a player (there is no denying it), he really did not add much to the Dodgers lineup after his trade. Was he good? Yes. Was he as big of a difference maker as many expected? Not even close. Add that to his lackadaisical attitude and you have a guy who is clearly looking on cashing in on his success and not for the betterment of his team.
4 Must Make: Be Patient At Trade Deadline
This may seem surprising but after the Yankees complete their expected whirlwind of an offseason, they should try and be patient at the trade deadline next season unless the team is in shambles or clearly needs an upgrade at one position. The reasoning behind this is that team chemistry can play a huge part in a teams success. Chemistry is something that builds throughout the season and can be disrupted with too many mid-season moves.
If the Yankees are in need of more bullpen help or could use another veteran bench presence, then they should go ahead and make a move. But if they are leading the division and all seems well, they should be patient at the trade deadline and not just make moves to make moves, which would be very un-Yankee like.
3 Avoid: Batting Judge & Stanton Back To Back
For much of last season, the Yankees had Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton batting back-to-back in the lineup. While this is certainly intimidating for opposing pitchers, it's not very tactful from a strategic standpoint. The Yankees have two of the best power hitters at their disposal and it would be better to have one or two hitters in between them that are guys that hit high average and get on base a lot. This maximizes the opportunity to drive in players with Judge and Stanton's towering home runs. This lineup is fierce and could get much scarier this offseason if the Yankees decide to go all-in on 2019.
2 Must Make: Sign Bryce Harper
While it might sound hypocritical to say "don't sign Machado because he's looking for big money and has a bad attitude but instead sign Bryce Harper," I'm going to do it. Harper is a transcendent type of player and has the personality that is perfect for the Big Apple and to be the face of the Evil Empire. Harper struggled for much of last season and it probably dropped his price tag a bit, but he is going to get the biggest contract we have seen in the MLB since Albert Pujols.
Signing Harper would give the Yankees one of the most dynamic outfields in the history of the MLB with Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. The three of them alone could be the final three in next season's Home Run Derby. Plus, Harper is hungry to win and to compete in the postseason. This pairing makes too much sense and would be a huge step in the Yankees jumping over the Red Sox.
1 Must Avoid: Chanting "We Want Boston"
The number one thing the Yankees need to avoid next season actually falls on their fans' shoulders. Something seemed to really shift last season when the Yankees fans were seen chanting "We Want Boston" prior to their postseason match-up. There was also footage of Aaron Judge strolling past the Red Sox locker room blasting "New York, New York" by Frank Sinatra. Yankees players and fans are known for being brash, but their trolling can come back to bite them.
Clearly, these moves were not lost on the Red Sox and they made it clear after beating the Yankees and also after winning another World Series title in 2018. It would be fitting, in fact, for the Red Sox fans to chant "Who's your daddy" when the Yankees make their first appearance at Fenway next season for the ultimate revenge.