Yankees' needs ahead of Winter Meetings

November 30th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Bryan Hoch’s Yankees Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

When Brian Cashman stood encircled by reporters at the General Managers Meetings in early November in Scottsdale, Ariz., squinting through aviator sunglasses and delivering a fiery defense of his baseball operations department, the longtime Yankees executive also offered an acknowledgment that talk is cheap. Only actions matter.

“The New York Yankees expect to win, which I’m proud to say and be part of an organization that’s that way,” Cashman said. “Our fan base not only deserves that type of winning, but our fan base expects that type of winning.

“They’re understandably pissed off when we don’t punch a ticket to get into the postseason and take a shot at the World Series title. Whatever we say as a franchise right now is not going to appease anybody. It’s about what we’re going to do to improve the roster and our situation going into the ’24 season.”

The Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn., will provide a springboard for that activity. Cashman has performed some light housekeeping since the club’s most recent game in early October, hiring Brad Ausmus as bench coach and bringing James Rowson back to the organization as hitting coach. Now it is time to focus on the players.

Key events
Sunday: HOF Contemporary Era ballot results released (Cito Gaston, Davey Johnson, Jim Leyland, Ed Montague, Hank Peters, Lou Piniella, Joe West and Bill White)
Tuesday: Draft Lottery
Wednesday: Rule 5 Draft

Club needs
Cashman has said that he is in the market for two outfielders, preferably left-handed hitters who can play left and center field. The Yanks have spoken with the Padres about a trade for Juan Soto, and they are eyeing free agent Cody Bellinger. Kevin Kiermaier also could provide a top-flight glove.

On the pitching side, they are known to have strong interest in Japanese right-hander Yoshinobu Yamamoto and could also seek to upgrade the bullpen (Josh Hader, perhaps?) after moving Michael King into the rotation late during the 2023 season.

Potential trade candidates
Though he’s one of the team’s better offensive players, Gleyber Torres is eligible for free agency after the 2024 season and has been rumored in trade talks for more than a year. The Yanks’ infield remains crowded; managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner has said that he envisions Oswald Peraza being part of the mix alongside Gold Glove shortstop Anthony Volpe, but an opportunity for regular playing time hasn’t yet materialized.

Prospects to know
Steinbrenner has said that he expects the Yankees to get younger in 2024. Switch-hitting outfielder Jasson Domínguez isn’t expected to return from Tommy John surgery until mid-summer, but catcher Austin Wells showed promise and could challenge Jose Trevino for playing time. Outfielder Everson Pereira, right-hander Clayton Beeter and righty Will Warren are also knocking on the door.

Rule 5 Draft
The Yankees protected Beeter and catcher Agustin Ramirez in advance of the Rule 5 Draft, but three of their Top 30 prospects are up for grabs. That group includes infielder Jared Serna (No. 20), right-hander Matt Sauer (No. 25) and left-hander Edgar Barclay (No. 28).

Burning question
After an 82-win season that Cashman bluntly characterized as a “disaster,” how will the Yankees restore confidence in the franchise’s direction? With money already having come off the payroll, a big offseason addition seems to be a swift way to correct a sour narrative. Signing Yamamoto would be a great start, but so could trading for Soto or inking Bellinger. Though Steinbrenner has said that a team shouldn’t need a $300 million payroll to contend for a championship, the Yankees have wielded their financial might as a weapon before. It might be time to do so again.