The New York Yankees are the most famed organisation in US team sports. No team is as iconic as New York. The pinstripes are synonymous with success. 27 championships attest to that. The Yankees are New York’s crown jewel; they expect to win. Therefore, one can understand the frustration emanating from the Bronx. 2010-2020 saw the New York Yankees go a decade without winning the World Series. 2020 was the fourth year in a row where the Yanks have suffered postseason heartbreak.
The 2020 New York Yankees were supposed to be the American League representative in the World Series. However, an injury-plagued season saw the Bronx Bombers finish just over .500. That record allowed them into the postseason. In the wildcard round, the Yankees crushed Cleveland. The divisional round saw them face off against their division winners the Tampa Bay Rays. The New York Yankees would lose that series in a decider. The Yankees are no longer the only contender in the AL East. Tampa Bay is not going anywhere, Toronto has an exciting young core, and the Red Sox will bounce back.
All this means that the New York Yankees are no longer the dominant team in the AL. There are several contenders within the league. Furthermore, the Yankees also have to deal with the dominant Dodgers, the surging Padres and the Atlanta Braves who added Charlie Morton to their rotation yesterday. The New York Yankees are no longer a juggernaut team. The Yanks might not even be the World Series favourite in the AL. With free agency now upon us, Brian Cashman needs to get his chequebook out and quality depth to the team. Here are three players to target.
The New York Yankees must bring back DJ LeMahieu. The veteran righty has been phenomenal in the last two years for the Yankees. He has hit well over .300 in both years, while his OBP climbed over .400 in the truncated 2020 season. LeMahieu can do everything at the plate. Having someone like that is pivotal for the New York Yankees.
Given the sluggers in the lineup, the Yankees batting order has the propensity to strike out a lot. Having LeMahieu in the lineup brings a bit of everything. The big man can get on base; he can draw walks, he can get base hits, and he can drive runs home. In the postseason teams will come up against elite starting pitching. That is when the Yankees’ problems have occurred as they can’t get on base. The Verlander game in 2017 saw them get dominated as batter after batter kept swinging and missing. Lineups can’t be packed full of sluggers; teams need all-around hitters. LeMahieu offers all of that. In 195 at-bats in 2020, LeMahieu had 115 total bases. The former All-Star gets on base, plus he can slug with the very best of them.
Also, LeMahieu is a super infielder. Whether he is on first or second base, LeMahieu has quick hands and can turn quick plays. He is a three-time gold glove award winner; that is outstanding. The Dodgers demonstrated that teams need excellent fielding to win a championship. Add his fielding prowess to his batting ability, and this signing becomes a no brainer.
Starting pitching still matters, particularly in October. The Yanks bullpen is loaded with top arms, but I always think you can not bullpen your way to a World Series. Walker’s career ERA is 3.84, plus his career WAR is a good 7.1. Walker works out of a three-pitch repertoire with a plus fastball that has high heat. At 28, Walker is not damaged goods, yes he has been passed around a lot in his career, but he is a solid pitcher. Walker’s issue has been consistency, but the Yankees need pitching help. The pressure would be off Walker as he could slot in behind Gerrit Cole and Jordan Montgomery.
The bonus of Walker is that he knows the division well. That could prove to be a critical positive in signing him. With Walker coming back into the division with a point to prove, and the fact that his stuff is right; the New York Yankees should consider this. Walker needs to build his sequence of pitches better, plus he needs to think at the mound about how he’ll get batters out. There is a lot to work with him, and the New York Yankees need someone to start.
A year out could be the break his body needed. Kluber has hardly pitched in the last two years. He was shut down completely last year at Texas. But the previous meaningful action Kluber saw was in 2018. His ERA was 2.89; he still displayed good craft when pitching. A veteran like this can be a crucial addition to the clubhouse.
Kluber will always know how to pitch to batters plus he has all the experience in the world. Veteran pitchers on low-cost deals can be an incredibly wise acquisition. Kluber can still locate his pitches, and he can manipulate at-bats to his advantage. If the Yankees can bring him in on a team-friendly deal, it could be inspired.