The New York Yankees have taken another cautious, yet effective approach towards the winter, continuing to minimize age risk in acquiring Starlin Castro and Aroldis Chapman in trades, while holding onto its draft picks. It’s a transparent strategy Brian Cashman has focused on since the end of the 2014 campaign which saw the final of the old guard, Derek Jeter, officially walk into the sunset and out of the Bronx.
Since the conclusion of the retirement tour, Cashman has made clear-cut strides at developing a youth movement from a combination of trades, free agent signings and an overdo but developing farm system. Here is a look at what moves have been made and what the Yankees should look like going into the future with this plan. We will review the infield first and separately the outfield and pitching staff.
Infield for 2016 and 2017:
3B – Chase Headley – He is the man with three years left on his deal, a deal which will expire before he ever reaches 35 years of age. With the trade of Eric Jagielo for Chapman and with the public endorsement of Castro and Dustin Ackley playing a little bit of backup, it seems Headley is the man in the hot corner unless he has another hideous season like most of his 2015 campaign.
SS – Didi Gregorius – Nothing to see here. Gregorius is under team control until 2020 and is currently 25-years-old. Cashman has his shortstop of the future and Gregorius did his part in his inaugural campaign after being traded in a deal last winter for primarily, Shane Greene, who has fizzled as a prospect after a hot start in the majors.
2B – Starlin Castro – The Yankees didn’t give up Adam Warren for a bench player. Castro will be trusted to play mostly at second base and some backup at shortstop and third. Castro is 25 and under control through 2020, just like Gregorius. Cashman has hedged his risk to an extent by hanging onto Rob Refsnyder, who will become trade bait the second Castro proves he belongs for the long haul. Ackley could dabble with second base when he’s not filling in on the rest of the diamond.
1B – Mark Teixeira and Greg Bird – “Tex” is in a walk year and almost certainly not coming back. Bird has proven he can play at the MLB level and is the heir apparent, which won’t happen until Teixeira injures himself (which will happen in 2016 at some point) or Opening Day, 2017. Bird will be just 24-years-old by then and will be under team control for six years.
C – Brian McCann and Gary Sanchez – McCann is under control through 2019 and is currently 31 years of age. Expect him to be the full-time catcher this year, a part time catcher and DH in 2017 and a full time DH by 2018. Gary Sanchez, meanwhile, will likely be the backup catcher with a decent spring after JR Murphy was traded for Aaron Hicks this winter.
Like with Jorge Posada before him, Sanchez will likely be eased into a full-time catcher role just in time for Alex Rodriguez’s contract to expire and the DH spot to open full-time for McCann. By 2018, McCann will be 33-years-old but strictly a hitter, and Sanchez will be a 25-year-old catcher with at least four years of team control.