It’s easy to forget year after year the main tasks of each winter. Heading into the winter last season, the Yankees had to replace an icon in Derek Jeter, another one in Ichiro Suzuki, plus two starters its starting third baseman and its heir apparent to Mariano Rivera. New York did about as well as possible with filling most of those holes but of course after a year new problems open and other ones are solved.
Here is a look at the issues the Yankees faced going into last winter and the new problems and solutions its faced this winter.
Heading into 2015:
Key Losses: David Robertson, Ichiro Suzuki, Derek Jeter, Martin Prado, Hiroki Kuroda and Brandon McCarthy, Shane Greene, David Phelps
Summary: Outfield depth, closer, starting SS and 3B, pitching depth
Off Season Additions: Didi Gregorius, Nathan Eovaldi, Andrew Miller, Garrett Jones, Alex Rodriguez
Spring Training Standouts: Chris Young (10 RBI), Stephen Drew (9 RBI), Ramon Flores (8 RBI), Alex Rodriguez (8 RBI), Chase Headley (8 RBI, .349 OBP)
Solutions: New York traded for Gregorius and Eovaldi, sending Prado, Phelps, rookie Greene and prospects out in the process. Having traded for Chase Headley at the 2014 deadline, the Yankees simply signed him to a new deal, replacing Prado at third. With Eovaldi, Gregorius and Headley in the mix, the Yankees also benefited from a healthy return of Alex Rodriguez off suspension and filled outfield depth from within as well. In the rotation, New York relied upon healthy returns from Ivan Nova, a step forward from Adam Warren and depth players like Chris Capuano. The Yankees simply swapped closers by letting Robertson walk and signing Miller in his place. The result was three more wins than the year before.
Heading into 2016:
Key Losses: Stephen Drew, Chris Young, Garrett Jones, Chris Capuano, Adam Warren, Justin Wilson, J.R Murphy
Summary: 2B, bench depth, pitching depth, backup catcher
Spring Training Standouts: TBD
Solutions: The Yankees gave up most of their talent through trades to fix other holes with less depth. Drew and Jones were let go after very little production, leaving a bench spot and second base open. Young left a fourth outfielder role open, Capuano, initially the fifth starter was bumped to an emergency starter once Nova was healthy and until Eovaldi wasn’t, Warren and Wilson left bullpen depth needed and Murphy opened a backup catcher vacancy.
But in trading Warren, Wilson, Murphy and prospects, the Yankees obtained Starlin Castro, Aaron Hicks and Luis Cessa. With those moves, it filled the needs at 2B, OF and pitching depth (basically replacing and potentially upgrading, Drew, Young and Capuano). New York also acquired Aroldis Chapman without surrendering any major league talent to help fill the holes left by Wilson and Warren, looking to fill the rest of the depth internally, with Chapman providing an upgrade in performance by bumping Miller into Betances’ role and Betances into Wilson and Warren’s role.
In addition, the Yankees will replace backup catcher with a competition being lead by Gary Sanchez, an internal prospect fill to compensate for the Murphy trade. Acquiring Dustin Ackley for prospects during the trade deadline helps to offset the loss of bench depth and upgrade it in the process. The outcome of these moves is to be determined, but the Yankees did fill the holes opened up in the beginning of the winter.