Yankees Exceed Expectations, Bright Future Ahead

Aaron Judge had four home runs, but 27 strikeouts, in the playoffs. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The fun ride came to an end in the Lone Star State. That fun ride refers to the 2017 New York Yankees, who came one win short of reaching the World Series, losing to the Houston Astros in seven games in the ALCS.

While I’m sure that every Yankee fan would’ve signed up for the team playing deep into October prior to the season, there’s no other way to say that how this season ended was devastating. Having the bats go silent in Games 6 and 7 in Houston after winning three-straight in the Bronx was crushing. Give credit to Houston’s pitching (specifically Justin Verlander) for shutting down the Yankees, but scoring just a single run in two games with a trip to the World Series on the line is unacceptable.

But enough of the negativity; if you look at this season on a larger scale, you will realize what a great season it has been in the Bronx. From Luis Severino’s emergence as an ace, to Aaron Judge’s phenomenal rookie season, it has been a season of great moments with the young core of Baby Bombers stepping up.

Even with the loss to Houston in the ALCS, the Yankees coming back from being down 2-0 in the American League Divisional Series to defeat the favored Cleveland Indians in Game 5 was one of my favorite moments as a Yankee fan. Obviously winning the title in 2009 is another one of my favorite moments, but that team was expected to win. This year’s team was playing with house money and was not expected to come back against Cleveland and that made the win so much sweeter.

The Yankees still had some postseason magic in the ALCS, despite the series loss to Houston. This includes coming back from being down 4-0 in the 7th inning in Game 4 and winning by a final score of 6-4. The Yankees also pulled out a victory in Game 5 against Astros ace Dallas Keuchel, who historically has pitched great against the Yankees. I thought for sure that the Yankees would win the ALCS after Game 5, but Jose Altuve, Verlander and the rest of the Astros thought otherwise.

This should be an interesting offseason for the Yanks, as current general manager Brian Cashman and manager Joe Girardi both have expiring contracts. There is no doubt that Cashman will be back, given the team he has built. I think that if Girardi still wants to manage the Yankees, he will be back as well.

Cashman has stated that he wants the Yankees to get under the 2018 tax threshold of $197 million. This can be attainable with the contracts of CC Sabathia ($25 million), Matt Holliday ($13 million), Todd Frazier ($12 million) and the inactive Alex Rodriguez 10-year contract expires this offseason. There is also a possibility of starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, who had a fantastic postseason opting out of his contract which pays $22 million per year.

Hopefully Tanaka and Sabathia come back next season, as they are both key members of the starting rotation. Even with his expiring contract, the 37-year-old Sabathia expressed his desire to return to the Yankees for next season.

Getting under the tax threshold would set the Yankees up nicely for the 2018 offseason, which is when superstar players Manny Machado and Bryce Harper are scheduled to be free agents.

The Yankees have a good amount of players that are under contract for the 2018 season, every position player except Holliday and Todd Frazier are under contract, while key bullpen arms such as Aroldis Chapman, David Robertson, Chad Green and Tommy Kahnle are also under contract for 2018. We will probably also see expanded roles for outfielder Clint Frazier and top infield prospect Gleyber Torres, who would have been in the big leagues this year if it wasn’t for an elbow injury he sustained in June.

While the way the season ended still stings, the future looks bright for the Yankees. With a young core of Judge, Severino, Greg Bird and Gary Sanchez, there’s no reason not to be excited for the future of this team. Hopefully next season and the years following have more big playoff moments and parades down the Canyon of Heroes. I already can’t wait for pitchers and catchers to report to Tampa in February.