The whole baseball world knew the 2016 New York Yankees were going to have a fire sale before the trade deadline, it was just a matter of what team and what prospects. Coveting two of the top relief and closing pitchers in the game in Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman, the New York Yankees had the luxury of being patient and waiting for the stars to align. The 2016 Yankees (84-78) were stuck in the middle for the majority of the season, making a run one week, and then seemingly following up with a dismal week, thus leading to many speculations surrounding the team. Questions continuously were brought up about Alex Rodriguez and what he was going to do at season’s end. The critical fans wondered what the iconic franchise was going to do to prepare for the future, rather than continue to lose more than win, even with studs in Chapman and Miller. Sure everyone can say it’s only a six inning game if you throw in Dellin Betances with the two flame throwers, but the 2016 Yankees had trouble getting through the first six to make their lives easier and rely on their stacked bullpen.
On August 7th 2016, Alex Rodriguez announced he would retire from baseball and accept an administration type role within the team for the remainder of the season. Were the Yankees turning over a new stone with Rodriguez’s announcement, and finally moving towards the fountain of youth as their counterpart Boston Red Sox seemingly have already made. Call me a bias Red Sox fan if you want, but Rodriguez retiring helped the Yankees. I would much rather see the Yankees struggle to find him a position in the lineup, watch him struggle to hit above a .200 average, then let them ff the hook.
With Mark Teixeira already announcing he would retire at the end of the season. Following the other greats in Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter retiring in the previous years, the Yankees were heading in the right direction. It is easy to assume players such as Jeter and Rivera could have kept playing, but every player at some point realizes when the right time is for them. Teixeira and Rodriguez retiring made it seem like it was time for a new chapter in New York.
Before the 2016 Trade deadline, the Yankees appeared to have finally reached the point of no return; they desperately needed to trade Miller and Chapman. Miller was traded to the Cleveland Indians for four top prospects, highlighted by outfielder Clint Frazier. Cleveland was making their late season run, and solidifying their bullpen was their top priority, thus adding Miller. Next went Chapman, who was sent to the eventual World Series Champion, Chicago Cubs, in exchange for another 4-1 player package, highlighted by 19 year old prospect Gleybar Torres. In a short period of time, the Yankees quickly sold their top players in exchange for eight top prospects, and all signs finally pointed towards rebuilding. Ironically, the two players traded, Miller and Chapman, were on the opposing teams who met in the 2016 World Series (Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians).
Not only did the New York Yankees reload their depleted farm system with these trades, but they were also able to resign Chapman in free agency at the end of the 2016 season. Sure they still have question marks in their rotation with C.C. Sabathia, Luis Severino, and Michael Pineda, but the Yankees future is looking better than ever. Rising through the system appears to be a power hitting outfielder in Aaron Judge, who is currently hitting .275 with 4HR’s and 11 RBIs, a Teixeira like first baseman in Greg Bird, who picked up 3 hits against the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday Night Baseball, and a power hitting catcher that may let the Yankees forget about Jorge Posada for a little bit in Gary Sanchez (currently on the DL). Their ace Masahiro Tanaka looks to lead the team as the teams ace again, although early signs (1-1, 8.36 ERA in 3 games) say otherwise for the time being. CC Sabathia seems to be turning back the clock, for now. The southpaw currently is 2-0 with a 1.47 ERA in 3 starts for 2017. Severino and Pineda look to find some consistency in the 2017 season, and provide some much needed pitching depth behind Tanaka and Sabathia.
The Yankees will hope the new “Baby Bombers” can catapult the Yankees back to the top and stay hot on their current 8 game winning streak, and also regain some momentum behind the “Evil Empire.”