NEW YORK -- Once the uncomfortable moment had passed and Brian Cashman informed Joe Girardi that the Yankees had decided to entrust their dugout to a different manager in 2018, the longtime general manager started to set the course of an offseason that has the potential for sweeping changes in
NEW YORK -- Once the uncomfortable moment had passed and Brian Cashman informed Joe Girardi that the Yankees had decided to entrust their dugout to a different manager in 2018, the longtime general manager started to set the course of an offseason that has the potential for sweeping changes in the South Bronx.
Girardi had been a solid hire for the position, averaging 91 victories per season over his decade-long run at the helm while bringing the Yankees to six postseason appearances and the 2009 World Series title. There had been what Girardi characterized as "healthy disagreements" with Cashman over the years, but at least one side of the relationship believed it would continue in '18.
Instead, though their season ended just one win from punching a ticket to the Fall Classic, Cashman believes that a new voice will be best equipped to shepherd the Yanks to the next stage of an exciting future. It is one in which the new core of Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Luis Severino and Greg Bird are set to play starring roles, with even more promising talent in the pipeline.
"I think we have a great young crew and we have more coming," Cashman said in October. "It's up to us to keep them healthy, to put them in a position to perform up to their ceiling, but we have more coming, we feel."
Free agents: 3B Todd Frazier, LHP Jaime Garcia, DH Matthew Holliday, RHP Michael Pineda, LHP Carsten Sabathia, RHP Masahiro Tanaka (opt-out clause).
Arbitration-eligible: RHP Dellin Betances, RHP Sonny Gray, SS Didi Gregorius, OF Aaron Hicks, RHP Tommy Kahnle, C Austin Romine, LHP Chasen Shreve, RHP Adam Warren.
What will Tanaka decide?
Other than the managerial search, the biggest question in the Yankees' universe at the moment revolves around Tanaka's decision, as the right-hander has until Saturday to opt out of the remaining three years and $67 million on his contract. Tanaka had what he characterized as an "up and down" campaign, going 13-12 with a 4.74 ERA in 30 starts, but he showed flashes of brilliance in September and was dominant in October. Could that be enough to tempt Tanaka to test the open market?
The 2017 season offered encouragement that bright days are on the horizon with the young core in place, and Cashman's task will now be to improve that gathering to prepare them for a run at a World Series title. Pursuing Japanese pitcher/designated hitter Shohei Ohtani appears likely, especially after Cashman and a Yankees contingent flew 6,000 miles during the heat of a division race to see the "Japanese Babe Ruth" play for the Nippon Ham Fighters in August. Other pitchers of interest include Jacob Arrieta, Alex Cobb, Yu Darvish and Lance Lynn, as well as a potential continuation of Sabathia's time with the club. Frazier said that he hopes to return, but given Bird's promise, Chase Headley may simply reclaim third base for 2018.
Room for a big splash?
Many Yankees fans have long dreamed of a situation where they could pluck Giancarlo Stanton from the Marlins, and while Stanton landing in pinstripes is still a long shot, Derek Jeter appears willing to send his new club into fire-sale mode. New York has $71.4 million coming off the books in Frazier, Holliday, Pineda, Alex Rodriguez and Sabathia, and the prospects would interest any organization in a trade. Stanton has 10 years and $295 million guaranteed on his contract, so he isn't necessarily the easiest fit, but an outfield with Stanton and Judge would be incredible to watch. Cashman has said that the Yanks will be under the $197 million payroll mark for 2018, resetting their luxury tax rate for what many expect will be runs at Manny Machado and/or Bryce Harper next offseason in the 2018-19 class.
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.