Any one of these five remaining MLB free agents could help push the New York Yankees over the top.
The New York Yankees have had a banner offseason, trading for Giancarlo Stanton to give themselves one of the most dangerous lineups in Major League Baseball, shedding more salary to get closer to the luxury-tax threshold, picking up more international bonus money and nabbing Aaron Boone and his high-energy personality to manage the young studs coming up through the farm system.
Things are looking up for the Yankees, a team that was allegedly going to be “rebuilding” in 2017.
The addition of Stanton has some in the media and Yankees fanbase at large declaring the Bronx Bombers the outright favorites to win the World Series in 2018. Even with the league’s best power hitter set to being launching alongside Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez, it’s a little early to make the Yankees the top dogs in the American League, let alone all of baseball.
To make room for Stanton, the Yankees had to part ways with their starting second baseman and third baseman from last season. Losing Starlin Castro and Chase Headley to make room for a 60-homer threat is a very fair price to pay, but the Yankees have significant holes at those positions entering the season and have not yet been able to fill them. It also remains to be seen how Luis Severino will respond to last year’s massive jump in workload and expectations. He is a budding ace, but has to prove he can do it two years in a row. The idea of a six-man rotation has been kicked around, and the Yankees would be wise to consider it.
Getting under the luxury-tax threshold remains an important concern for Brian Cashman and the front office, but there is still some room left to maneuver, especially if a portion center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury’s contract can be pawned off on another team. The Yankees are very close to overtaking the Astros, and adding any one of these five players could help push them over the top to their 28th World Series title.
5. Mike Napoli
There is a very good chance that Mike Napoli has played his last MLB game. The 36-year-old first baseman/DH hit just .193/.285/.428 last season for the Texas Rangers and struck out in over a third of his plate appearances. It was an even steeper continuation of the decline Napoli experienced in the second half and playoffs in 2016 while with the Cleveland Indians.
Struggles with contact aside, Napoli did hit 29 home runs last year and walked at a respectable rate. Given an even more reduced role with a contender, the 12-year veteran could still continue providing valuable power off the bench and in a platoon role. The Yankees did something similar with Matt Holliday last season, but his production fell off a cliff after a hot start because he was forced into an everyday role. With a deeper, but still very young, team, the Yankees should consider taking a flier on Napoli and letting him earn a job in Spring Training. His personality would mesh well with the fun-loving Baby Bombers.