The past two decades, the New York Yankees were known to have superstars and big-priced names on their teams. Examples include: Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Alex Rodriguez and Roger Clemens, just to name a few. This year the emphasis is on young players such as Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird, Aaron Judge and Clint Frazier.
Usually when the Yankees miss the playoffs, like they have in three of the past four seasons, it is cause for concern among team executives and fans. However, it’s a different era these days in the Bronx. General Manager Brian Cashman has embraced a rebuild of the roster as evident by last year’s trade deadline, as he traded away veteran outfielder Carlos Beltran as well as relief pitchers Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman, the latter of whom they re-signed this offseason.
The return of those trades include top prospects including shortstop Gleyber Torres, acquired in the Chapman trade, and outfielder Frazier, acquired in the Miller trade, who are both ranked in the top 25 of MLB’s top prospects list.
The standout from last year’s team is the catcher Sanchez, who hit 20 home runs in only 53 games in 2016. Sanchez provides good defense behind the plate, as he will look to build upon the momentum he created last season, while hitting in the middle of the lineup. The Yankees feel that Sanchez is the answer, as they traded away previous starting catcher Brian McCann this past offseason to the Houston Astros.
Other potential young standouts on the Yankees include first baseman Bird, who missed all of last season due to an injury. In the outfield, there stands the 6’7” Judge who debuted this past summer by hitting a home run in his first major league at-bat. Judge has all the power in the world, but has to keep his strikeouts down to reach his full potential.
The middle of the infield is an intriguing spot for the Yankees. They are slated to once again have Starlin Castro at second base and Didi Gregorius at shortstop. This looks to be one of the stronger middle infields in the MLB with both players under 30 years old and in the prime of their careers.
Perhaps the strongest part of the team is the bullpen. Headlined by Chapman, who possesses a fastball that consistently clocks in at over 100 mph. Dellin Betances is also slated for the setup role, rounding out one of the best bullpens in the league.
While the Yankees have great young potential on the team, the starting pitcher is what will hold them back from competing in 2017. Besides Masahiro Tanaka, the starting rotation is filled with question marks including CC Sabathia and Michael Pineda. The number four and five spots in the rotation are still up for grabs so far in Spring Training, so the rotation as it currently stands is completely unpredictable.
The 2017 Yankees don’t have the depth of a team that will compete for a championship, but they have young talent that can develop another year and gear up for a championship contending run in 2018.