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Yankee fans are in full-blown panic, maybe rightfully so.
Compared to the Mets, Texas Rangers, Toronto Blue Jays, and Detroit Tigers, it's been a severely underwhelming offseason thus far for the Yanks.
Now, the Yankees aren't able to make any moves for as long as the lockout is in place.
They know there is more work to be done -- the good news for them is there will be a chance to finish up their offseason.
Here are five (pretty obvious) things the Yankees need to do as soon as the lockout ends...
Get your shortstop
The Yankees have decided that Gleyber Torres is their second baseman moving forward. Both Brian Cashman and Aaron Boone have said that they needed a shortstop. And when the former top prospect in all of baseball was supposed to be that, and you’re saying that position is a necessity, the experiment is over.
However, there are reports that the Yankees aren’t in on the big-time free agent shortstops (more on that later). But no matter the case, Torres is not a shortstop, and Gio Urshela should only play shortstop in an emergency. DJ LeMahieu is simply not a shortstop option -- he has played just 12 defensive outs there in his career, none since 2014.
Getting a shortstop, whoever it may be, is priority No. 1.
Get your first baseman
Luke Voit got the short end of the stick when the Yankees acquired Anthony Rizzo. It was a move that had to be made – they needed a left-handed bat and an improvement defensively. When Rizzo had to sit out with COVID-19, Voit performed, but when his at-bats started to shrink, so did his results.
When Voit is a full-time player, he can mash. But he had four separate IL stints last season, missed 44 games in 2019, and was hobbled throughout a large portion of the 60-game season in 2020.
Depending on what the Yankees do with the rest of their infielders, they could rock with Voit as the starter until he gets hurt, and then plug LeMahieu in at first base.
But the first baseman should be a power hitter – something that LeMahieu was not in 2021 (a trend that very well could continue). The combination of Jay Bruce, Mike Ford, and Chris Gittens just didn't cut it.
There are a lot of power-hitting, left-handed options, both via trade (Matt Olson) and free agency (Rizzo, Freddie Freeman) that the Yankees have shown interest in.
You feel bad for Voit, but it's hard to say "thanks but no thanks" to those three guys if they are available.
Get your center fielder
Give Brett Gardner his kudos for playing serviceable defense and being somewhat of a threat at the plate late in the season (.799 OPS in his final 52 games). But in his age-38 season (he’ll turn 39 in August), is that sustainable? Doubtful.
Since he’s joined the Yankees, Aaron Hicks has played over 100 games just twice (he did play 54 of 60 games in 2020, to his credit). But at this point, until proven otherwise, his best ability is to walk. He’ll take advantage of the short porch every now and then, and is still a very athletic switch-hitting outfielder. But if his injuries are going to make Gardner a full-time center fielder again, the Yankees will be rocking with the same situation they did last year.
At least Giancarlo Stanton proved he can play the outfield last season, but can he be a part-time outfielder over an entire season? That remains to be seen, and if the Yankees are expecting Stanton’s second-half offense throughout 162 next season, that might not be a risk they want to take.
Make sure one of their acquisitions is a franchise-changing splash
Let’s face it – not every single position of need is going to be filled out by a stud.
But one of them has to be.
Andrelton Simmons, Dan Vogelbach, and Kevin Pillar is not an adequate offseason.
The Yankees have taken fliers before, and it’s worked (Didi Gregorius and LeMahieu for example). But this season proved more than any of the previous four that the roster is flawed, and that they have question marks that need to be answered.
The window is going to be open for a championship as long as Gerrit Cole, Stanton, and LeMahieu are on the team, as they are all under contract until at least the 2026 season.
But wait-and-see time is over. No more fliers, no more hoping to run into some luck.
The Yankees have brought in insane talent in Stanton and Cole in recent offseasons to fill positions of need, and there is no reason why they should not continue that trend.
Extend Aaron Judge
Remember that window we just talked about? It starts to shut rapidly without Judge.
The one thing Yankee fans wanted was a healthy season of their best player.
Not only did they get that, but they got it where he finished in fourth in the AL MVP voting. Judge only missed an extended period of time with a positive COVID-19 test. He did not go on the injured list because of injury.
He’s a top-10 player in baseball and the de facto captain. That sounds corny and forced, but Hal Steinbrenner called him "one of the faces of the franchise," and he is now, all of a sudden, one of the longest-tenured Yankees.
Most questions about him not being clutch were debunked this past season – he slashed .323/.427/.510 in high-leverage situations and .364/.457/.602 in “late and close” situations. He needs to prove he can do it in October (he’s just a .230 hitter in the postseason), but that has to be with a Yankee uniform.
Honorable mention -- get a starter
The Yankee rotation was underrated all season long. Yankee starters pitched to a 3.91 ERA - the 10th-best mark in MLB. From July 5 on, it was the fifth-best (3.67).
Nestor Cortes, Jordan Montgomery, Jameson Taillon, and Domingo German are fine for the middle of the rotation, but they do need to eat up more innings. The Yankees need to figure out if Deivi Garcia and Luis Gil are the real deal. Michael King was a stud out of the bullpen, but it's too early to give up on him as a starter. Clarke Schmidt also remains an option.
It's possible that the Luis Severino of old will show up and be the Yankees' No. 2. But that shouldn't stop the Yanks from exploring the market.
The good news for the Yankees is they have a lot of options. The bad news is none of them are trustworthy at this moment to be the second starter.
It's a good rotation, but at the moment, it's not championship-caliber.