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2018 Yankees: Keep ’em or Trash ’em?

 

The 2018-19 offseason has arrived for the Yankees.  So, which players should stick around, and which players should hit the road?

In an effort to let readers participate in the evaluation of Yankees players and management, Bronx Pinstripes created a Google Form.  So far, we’ve received 415 responses.  For those who’d like to vote but haven’t yet, here’s the link.

Here we go.

 

THE LINEUP:

1.  OF Aaron Hicks

137 games: .248 BA, 27 HR, 79 RBI,  18 2B, 11 SB, 90 BB, 111 SO, .366 OBP

The Results: 96.1% voted Keep ’em

The Verdict: Keep ’em

The Skinny: Hicks’ overall production in the outfield and from both sides of the plate has made him an everyday center fielder at the big league level.  And the 28-year-old’s value continues to rise, as his 27 home runs, 79 RBI, 18 doubles, and 90 walks were all career-highs.  Hicks gets on base at a high clip, and his 4.7 WAR ranks second only to Aaron Judge (5.5), who played in 25 less games.  With his arm, fielding range, and newly established power, there’s no doubt that Hicks is a keeper. 

2.  OF Aaron Judge

112 games: .278 BA, 27 HR, 67 RBI, 22 2B, 6 SB, 76 BB, 152 SO, .392 OBP

The Results: 100% voted Keep ’em

The Verdict: Keep ’em

The Skinny:  Judge wasn’t able to showcase his abilities throughout the entire season, as a chip fracture in his right wrist forced him to miss nearly a month and a half of action this summer.  But when he was on the field, he was undoubtedly the Yankees’ most talented player.  Judge also stepped up in the postseason once again, hitting .421 with three home runs and four RBI in 19 October at-bats.  At 27, he’s an old youngster, but in theory, Judge’s prime years are still ahead of him.

3.  OF/DH Giancarlo Stanton

158 games: .266 BA, 38 HR, 100 RBI, 34 2B, 5 SB, 70 BB, 211 SO, .343 OBP

The Results: 89.1% voted Keep ’em

The Verdict: Keep ’em

The Skinny: Stanton is a star player who experiences extremely hot and cold streaks, so his growing pains and mood swings from April to October shouldn’t have come as a shock to the Yankees.  Take some solace in the fact that this was a down-year to Stanton’s MVP standards, as he “only” led the Yankees with 38 homers and 100 RBI.  Also, don’t forget that he carried the offense while Judge was on the disabled list.  With a full year of New York baseball under his belt, Stanton should be ready to take his game to the next level in 2019.  He’s now familiar with the pressure and atmosphere.  Still, overall, his season numbers were strong.

4.  SS Didi Gregorius

134 games: .268 BA, 27 HR, 86 RBI, 23 2B, 10 SB, 48 BB, 69 SO, .335 OBP

The Results: 95.6% voted Keep ’em

The Verdict: Keep ’em

The Skinny: Over the last four years, the Yankees have watched Gregorius blossom into a Top-10 major league shortstop.  Much like Hicks, Gregorius has gradually developed power at the plate, and his left-handed swing — plus his above-average defense at shortstop — equals a fun player to watch.  However, Gregorius’ future with the Yankees is sort of in question right now.  Last week, the team announced that Gregorius will miss at least half of next season due to Tommy John surgery on his throwing arm.  That’s s a huge loss and a major blow for the Yankees.  Plus, Gregorius will become an unrestricted free agent after the 2019 season.  The Yankees believe he’s the franchise shortstop, but will he stick around?  Will the Yankees find someone else who can fill the void and take over permanently?  The only certainty is that Gregorius’ market value has dropped. 

5.  3B Miguel Andujar

149 games: .297 BA, 27 HR, 92 RBI, 47 2B, 2 SB, 25 BB, 97 SO, .328 OBP

The Results: 96.4% voted Keep ’em

The Verdict: Keep ’em

The Skinny: Andujar had a special rookie season at the plate.  He was arguably the Yankees’ most consistent hitter all season, and with that in mind, he will most likely win the AL Rookie of the Year award.  But Andujar isn’t a complete player yet.  His defense at third base was poor overall, and based on his work-in-progress range and footwork at the position, it seems like Andujar could offer more to the Yankees at a different position.  Perhaps the outfield?  Plenty of upside, though.  His at-bats were must-see TV at times.

 

 

6.  C Gary Sanchez

89 games: .186 BA, 18 HR, 53 RBI, 17 2B, 1 SB, 46 BB, 94 SO, .291 OBP

The Results: 83.3% voted Keep ’em

The Verdict: Keep ’em

The Skinny: 2018 was a lost season for Sanchez.  Not only was he hampered by injuries, but he also hit a measly .186 and allowed a major league-high 18 passed balls in less than 100 games.  All-around, a year to forget.  But it’s still too early to give up on Sanchez.  At 25, he’s arguably the best hitting catcher in the game, and his 2016 and 2017 numbers say he’s not a Mendoza Line talent.  Perhaps his hitting slump affected his defense.  The good news is that his play behind the plate wasn’t an issue in five playoff games this year.  In fact, Sanchez has yet to allow a passed ball in 18 career October games.  Sanchez will have a chance to hush the critics next season. 

7.  2B/SS Gleyber Torres

123 games: .271 BA, 24 HR, 77 RBI, 16 2B, 6 SB, 42 BB, 122 SO, .340 OBP

The Results: 98.6% voted Keep ’em

The Verdict: Keep ’em

The Skinny: Offensively, Torres lived up to his preseason billing.  He can hit for contact and power, and the Yankees can utilize him anywhere in the batting order.  Defensively, there’s room for improvement.  As a natural shortstop, Torres struggled some at second base.  He has all the tools to succeed and he’s slick with the glove, but with Gregorius now injured, it’ll be interesting to see how Torres handles a significant middle infield role. He’ll most likely see time at both positions next year. Nevertheless, an impressive rookie campaign for him.

8.  OF Brett Gardner

140 games: .236 BA, 12 HR, 45 RBI, 20 2B, 16 SB, 65 BB, 107 SO, .322 OBP

The Results: 68.5% voted Trash ’em

The Verdict: Keep ’em

The Skinny: There’s a very good chance that Gardner, who’s played in the Yankees organization for over a decade, won’t wear pinstripes in 2019.  The club can exercise a $12.5 million option for next year, or let him walk with a $2.5 million buyout.  If Gardner really wants to remain in New York — and it sounds like he does — it would make some sense for the Yankees to pass on the team option, and re-negotiate terms at a discounted rate. Gardner still offers value as a veteran leader and voice off the bench.  At 35, he’s a fourth outfielder.

9.  1B Luke Voit

39 games: .333 BA, 14 HR, 33 RBI, 5 2B, 15 BB, 39 SO, .405 OBP

The Results: 90.3% voted Keep ’em

The Verdict: Keep ’em

The Skinny: Remember what Shane Spencer meant to the 1998 Yankees?  Well, Voit played a similar role in 2018, although the Yankees missed out on a championship this time around.  Voit was a late-summer spark plug — one the team needed quite badly.  Before Voit arrived, the Yankees had received very little production from first basemen, so we’ll see if he can win the starting job next spring.  According to general manager Brian Cashman, he has a “leg up” on the competition.  And that competition includes Greg Bird.  Voit’s sample size is small, but there’s plenty of upside to his game.  Safe to say the St. Louis Cardinals didn’t see this coming when they dealt Voit to New York a few months ago.  But, one man’s trash…

THE BENCH:

10.  OF Andrew McCutchen

25 games: .253 BA, 5 HR, 10 RBI, 2 2B, 1 SB, 22 BB, 22 SO, .421 OBP

The Results: 61.3% voted Keep ’em

The Verdict: Trash ’em

The Skinny: For an August 31 trade deadline acquisition, the Yankees squeezed a lot of juice out of McCutchen.  In just 25 games, he walked 22 times, and that helped boost his on-base percentage to .421 in September.  McCutchen was also valuable in the outfield while Judge was in the midst of rehabbing his broken wrist.  Having said all that, McCutchen is now a veteran free agent, and he’ll likely want to receive $10-15 million per year in his next contract (he made $15 million in 2018).  Is he worth that much money to the Yankees?  Nope.  The rest of McCutchen’s juice isn’t worth the squeeze.  Besides, the Yankees have better outfield options on the roster. 

11.  C Austin Romine

77 games: .244 BA, 10 HR, 42 RBI, 12 2B, 1 SB, 17 BB, 67 SO, .295 OBP

The Results: 90.6% voted Keep ’em

The Verdict: Keep ’em

The Skinny: Romine saw a lot of playing time in 2018 due to Sanchez’ DL stints, and to his credit, he made the most of his opportunities.  Romine’s 10 homers and 42 RBI were career-highs, by a lot.  He also calls a good game behind the dish, so the Yankees can’t complain about their backup catcher.  He exceeded expectations. 

12.  IF/OF Neil Walker

113 games: .219 BA, 11 HR, 46 RBI, 12 2B, 42 BB, 87 SO, .309 OBP

The Results: 51.9% voted Trash ’em

The Verdict: Trash ’em

The Skinny: 2018 was a tale of two halves for Walker.  It took him a long time to adjust to his part-time/utility role.  Although his versatility and experience is a plus, he’s no longer under contract.  Rather than signing Walker in free agency, the Yankees should offer the 2019 Swiss Army knife role to someone else.  Walker would come cheap, but is he worth the money?  Probably not.

13.  1B Greg Bird

82 games: .199 BA, 11 HR, 38 RBI, 16 2B, 30 BB, 78 SO, .286 OBP

The Results: 83.1% voted Trash ’em

The Verdict: Keep ’em

The Skinny: Surprised?  While Bird’s injuries and slumps have resulted in a tremendous disappointment, he should get one last shot with the Yankees next spring.  If he can’t beat out Voit for the first base job, then the team should consider parting ways with him.  The ice is very thin for Bird.  But for now, it’s best the Yankees hold onto him.  He’s still young and cheap.  The home run swing is there.  Can he put it all together?  Can he stay healthy?  Time for him to face the music… or else.

14.  OF Jacoby Ellsbury

Did not play in 2018 due to injuries

The Results: 97.3% voted Trash ’em

The Verdict: Trash ’em

The Skinny: Remember Ellsbury?  No?  He dealt with a laundry list of injuries this season.  Expect him to be on the DL again next year, too, in order for the Yankees to collect some insurance money on the whopping $42 million Ellsbury’s owed until 2021.  Could they simply cut him?  Sure.  But why eat money when they can possibly get some back?  Look, is there a trade partner out there?  Maybe, maybe not.  It’s best the Yankees send him to the storage unit.  He won’t have a role with the team next year.  In short, they don’t need him, nor do they want him.

15.  SS/3B Adeiny Hechavarria

18 games: .194 BA, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 1 2B, 5 BB, 12 SO, .216 OBP

The Results: 50.4% voted Keep ’em

The Verdict: Trash ’em

The Skinny: What you see is what you get with Hechavarria.  He’s an exceptional defender with little to no offensive ability.  He made a few huge plays at shortstop and third base for the Yankees this fall, but it makes little sense to bring Hechavarria back on a free agent contract.  He fit the Yankees’ need at the time.  That’s it. 

16.  OF Clint Frazier

15 games: .265 BA, 1 RBI, 3 2B, 5 BB, 13 SO, .390 OBP

The Results: 79.1% voted Keep ’em

The Verdict: Keep ’em

The Skinny: Frazier was limited to just 15 games this season due to lingering symptoms from a concussion he suffered during spring training.  Head injuries are a major concern, and with that in mind, it’s difficult to predict what Frazier’s role will be in 2019.  There’s a wide range of possibilities here.  Could he earn a starting outfield job?  Could the concussion symptoms return?  Could he spend the majority of the season blocked in the minors again?  If Frazier had been healthy and productive for all of February and March last year, his future with the Yankees wouldn’t be this ambiguous.  All the Yankees can do is hope Frazier returns to the fold.  He’s a valuable youngster. 

THE ROTATION:

 

17.  RHP Luis Severino

32 games started: 19-8, 3.39 ERA, 220 SO, 46 BB, 1.14 WHIP, 191.1 IP

The Results: 98.3% voted Keep ’em

The Verdict: Keep ’em

The Skinny: Despite his inconsistencies this season, there’s no doubt that Severino is the Yankees’ ace.  Yes, it’s now clear that he was tipping his pitches during several second-half starts, but it’s lazy to pinpoint that as the root of his recurring issues.  Consider his workload (over 400 innings across the last two seasons), his slight dip in velocity, his lack of command and sharpness on sliders.  So, he’s still learning and adapting at 24-years-old.  Severino should be able to take a big leap forward in 2019.

18.  LHP J.A. Happ

11 games: 7-0, 2.69 ERA, 63 SO, 16 BB, 1.05 WHIP, 63,2 IP

The Results: 90.8% voted Keep ’em

The Verdict: Keep ’em

The Skinny: Although Happ will receive a few offers this winter, the Yankees should try their best to bring him back on a free agent contract.  He was an impact arm in August and September, winning seven of his 11 starts with the club.  Unfortunately, his career success against the Red Sox didn’t come in handy this October.  But Happ is a smart and reliable veteran lefty, and that’s a valuable asset for any playoff contending team.  

19.  RHP Masahiro Tanaka

27 games started: 12-6, 3.75 ERA, 159 SO, 35 BB, 1.13 WHIP, 156 IP

The Results: 98.5% voted Keep ’em

The Verdict: Keep ’em

The Skinny: The Yankees are fortunate that Tanaka decided to opt-in to his remaining contract last winter.  He and Happ were the strongest second-half starters, and during the ALDS, Tanaka was really the only pitcher who stepped up.  Is he a No. 1 ace?  Not really.  But as long as he stays healthy and pitches like a No. 2-3, the Yankees can’t regret signing Tanaka for $155 million back in 2014.

20.  LHP C.C. Sabathia

29 games started: 9-7, 3.65 ERA, 140 SO, 51 BB, 1.31 WHIP, 153 IP

The Results: 55.6% voted Trash ’em

The Verdict: Keep ’em

The Skinny: It’s clear that Sabathia wants to pitch again next season, and it’s also clear that he doesn’t mind leaving New York to do so.  But, if the Yankees are comfortable offering him another cheap and incentive-laden deal, he could be a useful No. 5 starter in the rotation.  Think of him as a placeholder while youngsters like Domingo German, Jonathan Loaisiga, and Justus Sheffield continue to grow and develop.  It’s also worth mentioning that Sabathia had the second-best team ERA and the second-most starts.  He was durable. 

21.  RHP Sonny Gray

23 games started: 11-9, 4.90 ERA, 123 SO, 57 BB, 1.50 WHIP, 130.1 IP

The Results: 96.4% voted Trash ’em

The Verdict: Trash ’em

The Skinny: Last week during the Yankees’ postmortem press conferences, Brian Cashman bluntly said that Gray isn’t suited to pitch in New York, and that he’ll look to move the 28-year-old right-hander this winter.  Their 2017 deadline trade with the Oakland A’s didn’t work out.  So, Gray will be wearing a different uniform next year.  Count on that.

22.  RHP  Lance Lynn

9 games started: 3-2, 4.14 ERA, 61 SO, 14 BB, 1.33 WHIP, 54.1 IP

The Results: 83.9% voted Trash ’em

The Verdict: Trash ’em

The Skinny: The Yankees’ mid-summer trade for Lynn was solely for depth, and depth is what he provided.  But he wasn’t too sharp in most of his appearances, and with that said, the Yankees should pass on signing Lynn this winter.  He’s a veteran with little upside at this point.  

23.  RHP Domingo German

14 games started: 2-6, 5.57 ERA, 102 SO, 33 BB, 1.33 WHIP, 85.2 IP

The Results: 53.8% voted Trash ’em

The Verdict: Keep ’em

The Skinny: German was useful as a spot starter early in the season, but command issues cost him the role later on.  Fortunately for the Yankees, German is still young, so they should view him as a No. 6-type long man in 2019.  Plenty of room to grow.

24.  LHP Jordan Montgomery

6 games started: 2-0, 3.62 ERA, 23 SO, 12 BB, 1.35 WHIP, 27.1 IP

The Results: 88.5% voted Keep ’em

The Verdict: Keep ’em

The Skinny: Montgomery underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery in June, so his timetable for 2019 remains unknown.  Recovery time is typically 12-18 months.  If his recovery is on the shorter side, perhaps Montgomery sees game action next year.  Regardless, the Yankees are hoping Montgomery will ultimately mold into a dependable left-hander starter.  He started the 2018 season with a 2-0 record and 3.62 ERA in six starts.  During his rookie season in 2017, he owned a 3.88 ERA across 29 outings.

25.  RHP Jonathan Loaisiga

4 games started: 2-0, 5.11 ERA, 33 SO, 12 BB, 1.54 WHIP, 24.2 IP

The Results: 70% voted Keep ’em

The Verdict: Keep ’em

The Skinny: Like German, the Yankees could use Loaisiga as a spot-starter/long man in 2019.  For someone who skipped the Triple-A level last year (he was called up from Double-A last summer), Loaisiga is a worthwhile option.  In a small sample of appearances, he showed pretty good command.  Loaisiga is only 23, so if he struggles during spring training, the Yankees shouldn’t worry.  He’s already shown encouraging signs. 

THE BULLPEN:

26.  LHP Aroldis Chapman

55 games: 3-0, 2.45 ERA, 32 SV, 1 HLD, 93 SO, 30 BB, 1.05 WHIP, 55.1 IP

The Results: 97.3% voted Keep ’em

The Verdict: Keep ’em

The Skinny: It was clear during the summer that Chapman’s knee tendinitis was a problem.  His mobility was limited, his velocity was down, his command was all over the place.  But to Chapman’s credit, he battled through some rough patches and a DL stint, and wound up recording over 30 saves.  When he was on, he was on — his fastball was crisp and his slider was sharp.  The Yankees have to hope that Chapman’s knee issue is solved this offseason.  He’s a special back-end reliever when healthy. 

27.  RHP Dellin Betances

66 games: 4-6, 2.70 ERA, 20 HLD, 4 SV, 115 SO, 26 BB, 1.05 WHIP, 66.2 IP

The Results: 96.6% voted Keep ’em

The Verdict: Keep ’em

The Skinny: What a difference a year makes.  In 2017, the Yankees couldn’t count on Betances in any high-leverage situations, as he lacked command and confidence.  But this year, Betances returned to his old, dominant self, and once again, he proved just how valuable he is as a set-up man.  And to think a chunk of fans wanted him shipped out of town last winter…

 

28.  RHP David Robertson 

69 games: 8-3, 3.23 ERA, 21 HLD, 5 SV, 91 SO, 26 BB, 1.03 WHIP, 69.2 IP

The Results: 89.8% voted Keep ’em

The Verdict: Keep ’em

The Skinny: Robertson was another back-end reliever who stepped up in big spots.  He was terrific in the ALDS against the Red Sox, and a veteran stopper like him has plenty of value.  Robertson will once again test free agency, so we’ll see if the Yankees want to bring him back for a third stint.  He’s definitely worth the cash. 

29.  LHP Zach Britton 

25 games: 1-0, 2.88 ERA, 8 HLD, 3 SV, 21 SO, 11 BB, 1.16 WHIP, 25 IP

The Results: 69% voted Keep ’em

The Verdict: Keep ’em

The Skinny: Although the Yankees don’t regret trading for Britton in late July, it’s safe to say that they didn’t get the whole Britton experience while he was in pinstripes.  In fairness to Britton, he missed the start of the season due to recovery from Achilles tendon surgery, so it must’ve been difficult for him to shake off the rust in the midst of a pennant race.  Reality is, Britton is a dominant and dangerous lefty, and he’s going to make a lot of money this offseason.  Will he return to the Yankees?  Maybe.  Should the Yankees make him an offer?  Of course.  Britton has said he’d love to stay in New York and he doesn’t mind pitching in different roles.  So, he checks off all the boxes.

30.  RHP Jonathan Holder

60 games: 1-3, 3.14 ERA, 7 HLD, 60 SO, 19 BB, 1.09 WHIP, 66 IP

The Results: 72.6% voted Keep ’em

The Verdict: Keep ’em

The Skinny: Holder was a pleasant surprise for the Yankees.  Throughout the entire season, he made the necessary adjustments when issues surfaced, and that work ethic and attention to detail earned him a number of opportunities to pitch in key situations.  He’ll be one of the Yankees’ middlemen in 2019.  Could be a Swiss Army knife.

31.  RHP Tommy Kahnle

24 games: 6.56 ERA, 2 HLD, 1 SV, 30 SO, 15 BB, 1.63 WHIP, 23.1 IP

The Results: 62.5% voted Trash ’em

The Verdict: Trash ’em

The Skinny: The Yankees didn’t see much of Kahnle in 2018.  He dealt with shoulder tendinitis, which caused his fastball velocity to drop down to 95.5 mph (it was 98.1 mph in 2017).  He only appeared in 24 games because he spent the bulk of the season working things out in Triple-A.  He’s under contract until 2021, but the Yankees should try to move him.  They already have enough high-velocity right-handers. 

32.  RHP Chad Green

63 game: 8-3, 2.50 ERA, 94 SO, 15 BB, 1.04 WHIP, 75.2 IP

The Results: 95.9% voted Keep ’em

The Verdict: Keep ’em

The Skinny: Green is a strikeout machine, as he finished with 94 in 75.2 innings this year.  Compared to his stellar 2017 campaign, Green wasn’t as sharp or dominant, but he’s comfortable with a variety of roles, and that’s a plus.  He’s useful as an innings eater or as a high-leverage option.  The only concern is that he hasn’t really crafted an arsenal.  His secondary pitch is still a work-in-progress, and that’s why his mislocated fastballs hurt him.  He was often predictable.  But this shouldn’t discourage the Yankees.  Green just has to fine-tune his transition from throwing to pitching.  Easier said than done, though. 

33.  RHP Luis Cessa

16 games: 1-4, 5.24 ERA, 2 SV, 39 SO, 13 BB, 1.43 WHIP, 44.2 IP

The Results: 85.7% voted Trash ’em

The Verdict: Trash ’em

The Skinny: Cessa is that cat with nine lives.  He hasn’t made the most of his spot start opportunities, and he resembles a Quadruple-A pitcher.  His stuff isn’t consistent, and that’s a problem.  Cessa has no minor league options next year.  Can’t imagine he takes up a spot in the big league bullpen, so it’s probably time for the Yankees to move on from him.  

MORE NAMES:

34.  RHP A.J. Cole

28 games: 3-1, 4.26 ERA, 49 SO, 16 BB, 1.45 WHIP, 38 IP

The Results: 84.2% voted Trash ’em

The Verdict: Trash ’em

35.  RHP Chance Adams

The Results: 63.1% voted Keep ’em

The Verdict: Keep ’em

36.  LHP  Justus Sheffield

The Results: 90.5% voted Keep ’em

The Verdict: Keep ’em

MANAGEMENT:

37.  Manager Aaron Boone, General Manager Brian Cashman

100-62 record, 2nd AL East, Wild Card game win, ALDS loss

The Results: 72.9% voted Keep ’em, 95.2% voted Keep ’em

The Verdict: Keep ’em, Keep ’em

The Skinny: Although Boone was more reactive than proactive during the ALDS (pitching, bullpen decisions in Games 3 and 4 cost him), don’t forget that the Yankees won 100 regular season games.  For a first year skipper with absolutely no managerial experience, Boone did a pretty good job.  He learned on the fly, and the Yankees appreciate his willingness to own up to mistakes.  He’s definitely deserving of another year.  After all, letting Boone go after one season would make the franchise look bad.  As for Cashman, he also helped the Yankees win 100 games for the first time since 2009.  His homegrown youngsters rose to the occasion, and his trade deadline acquisitions helped make the team a legitimate championship contender.  The Yankees accomplished their goal of getting under the luxury tax threshold, so it’ll be interesting to see how Cashman and his staff approach this winter’s free agent bonanza.  Future is bright.

 

 

If you want to connect with Tom Hanslin, email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @tomhanslin.

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