New York Yankees offseason preview: Get healthy, get help
It was both a surprisingly successful and frustrating 2015 season for the New York Yankees. After quietly earning a wild-card spot, the Yankees, ahem, quietly exited the postseason with a 3-0 loss to the Astros.
With many veterans still under contract (and owed a good chunk of money), the roster will largely remain intact in 2016. Here are three things the Yankees will need to address to be contenders next season:
1. Be the Yankees of old. Many experts thought the Yankees would go all-in at the trade deadline, considering they were a season-high seven games up in the division on July 28. They didn’t. Their biggest need? An ace. If there were ever a time to open the wallet like the Yankees in the Steinbrenner era, it would be this offseason. With big-name free-agent pitchers on the market — David Price, Jordan Zimmermann and Johnny Cueto to name a few — the Yankees can fill the need in short order, pairing one up with Masahiro Tanaka atop the rotation to form one of the better 1-2 combinations in the league.
2. Get healthy. Injuries to Mark Teixeira (shin), Jacoby Ellsbury (knee) and Carlos Beltran (oblique) limited their impact in the lineup. Tanaka (elbow, hamstring) also struggled to stay healthy, missing several key starts down the stretch. Alex Rodriguez had a stellar first half, hitting .278 with 51 RBI. However, sitting out the 2014 season due to suspension caught up to him, indicated by his .216 average in the second half. Getting those guys healthy, along with getting A-Rod’s stamina back, will be key to any 2016 success. Additionally, CC Sabathia’s off-field health will be a priority as addresses alcohol addiction in a treatment center.
3. Find a second baseman. Stephen Drew filled in for 123 games this season but hit just .201. Although he did have 17 home runs and 44 RBI, the Yankees will need more consistent production out of the position next season. The team seems reluctant to give the the job to Rob Refsnyder, who has performed well in a limited role, hitting .302 with two homers in 43 at-bats. His career .290 average in the minor leagues shows he can hit for average, but don’t expect much pop with just 33 home runs in 433 games. An interesting option to fill the role is Dustin Ackley, whom the team acquired at the trade deadline from the Mariners. The 2009 second overall draft pick seemed to have found his swing in New York, blasting four home runs with a .288 average in 52 at-bats. Many experts see Ackley as a player with some untapped potential — something the Yankees coaching staff can try to access moving forward.