Blue Jays: The AL East is in for a shift in the landscape
Has the window closed in New York?
Other than the Blue Jays, the team I will likely be following the most this offseason will be the Yankees. I could be wrong, but I feel like this might be the most important offseason we’ve seen from the Bronx Bombers in many years.
After absolutely dominating baseball in the first half of the 2022 campaign, the Yankees really came back to earth after the All-Star break. Had they not built such a big lead in the division early in the season then they may not have been able to hold off the Rays and Blue Jays down the stretch, and it seemed like more of their roster flaws were exposed as the season went on.
The obvious elephant in the room for Brian Cashman and the Yankees will be whether they are able to re-sign Aaron Judge after his AL record breaking 62 home run season in 2022. On one hand it would be understandable if they were concerned about locking up the 30 year old to a massive contract for the back half of his career, but I think it’s also fair to point out that Judge basically carried them to the playoffs this year. Without his contribution I don’t think there’s any way the Yankees win the division, and they could have been hard-pressed to even make the playoffs without their best player. Can they really afford to let him walk?
There were several reports that Judge turned down a seven-year contract in the neighbourhood of 213 million last winter, and obviously betting on himself should improve his leverage even if he’s another year older. While I’d be shocked if the Yankees didn’t try to keep him in pinstripes, I’m willing to bet that there will be a limit to how far they’ll go to retain him.
As for the rest of the roster, Judge isn’t the only decision they’ll have to make. Anthony Rizzo has the option to opt out of the 16 million and one year left on his current deal, and he might do just that in order to secure a few more seasons at a solid rate. They also have a club option for Luis Severino for 15 million that they’ll likely exercise, but they could also be working around the edges when it comes to payroll. Unlike back in the glory days of the Steinbrenner era in New York, the Yankees do show some restraint these days.
With some talented youngsters ready to take on big league roles like Oswaldo Cabrera and Oswald Peraza, the Yankees could look a bit different when next season rolls around. We already know that they won’t be satisfied with losing in the ALCS and will look to come back strong next year, but that could be very difficult without their best player and an aging roster otherwise.
It remains to be seen what happens with Judge, but other than the Red Sox I’m not sure there’s a more vulnerable team in the division at the moment. In fact, unless things go well for Cashman and company this offseason, the Yankees may not only lose their hold on the division, but they could easily fall closer to the bottom of the standings if they’re not careful. In a division this good, things can change quickly, and that could very well happen to the mighty Yankees as soon as next year. Wouldn’t that be nice?