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5 offseason questions facing Yankees

With season over, it's time for Cashman to get busy
MLB.com @feinsand

NEW YORK -- After 100 regular-season wins, the Yankees' season is over following their four-game loss to the rival Red Sox in the American League Division Series.

While the players disperse for the offseason -- and in the case of the team's nine potential free agents, possibly longer than that -- and the final four teams vie for the World Series crown, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman will hold his organizational meetings to formulate a plan for the offseason.

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NEW YORK -- After 100 regular-season wins, the Yankees' season is over following their four-game loss to the rival Red Sox in the American League Division Series.

While the players disperse for the offseason -- and in the case of the team's nine potential free agents, possibly longer than that -- and the final four teams vie for the World Series crown, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman will hold his organizational meetings to formulate a plan for the offseason.

View Full Game Coverage

:: ALDS schedule and results ::

The General Managers Meetings begin in exactly four weeks. What should the Yankees' priorities be as they look to take the next step toward a 28th championship?

Here's an early look at what lies ahead for New York:

1. Who might the Yankees target in free agency?
Having successfully navigated their way through the 2018 season while keeping the payroll beneath the $197 million luxury tax threshold, the Yankees will be in position to spend big this offseason.

It's doubtful they'll go after Bryce Harper, not with Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Hicks under control and Clint Frazier and Estevan Florial waiting in the wings. (Don't forget -- Jacoby Ellsbury is still signed for two more years, too!)

Manny Machado also seems to be a bad fit for the Yankees as they're currently constructed, but with Didi Gregorius only one year from free agency and AL Rookie of the Year award candidate Miguel Andujar showing some questionable defense, it's possible that the Yanks might consider trading one of them -- ideally for a young, controllable starter -- and opening a spot for Machado.

Video: Aaron Judge homers in 3 consecutive postseason games

Patrick Corbin, arguably the best starter on the open market, also figures to be a prime Yankees target in the coming months.

2. Which free agents might the Yankees try to retain?
CC Sabathia has said he'd like to play again in 2019, but whether that is back in New York remains to be seen. The Yankees could look to re-sign J.A. Happ, who was superb after being acquired in late July, his Game 1 ALDS flop notwithstanding. If Happ signs elsewhere, that could open the door for Sabathia to return on another one-year deal.

Video: BOS@NYY Gm4: Sabathia on possible last game as Yankee

Beyond the two starting pitchers, David Robertson could be a good fit as a late-inning setup man, while Zach Britton figures to seek a closer job in free agency.

Assuming his $12.5 million option is declined (he'd get a $2 million buyout), Brett Gardner could be back on a short-term deal, while Andrew McCutchen is likely to go elsewhere. Lance Lynn, Adeiny Hechavarria and Neil Walker aren't likely to figure prominently in the offseason plans, though it's possible there will be interest on the Yankees' part once the bulk of the roster is constructed.

Video: BOS@NYY Gm4: Gardner on Game 4 loss, 2018 season

3. Could Cashman make a big trade this offseason?
Dealing Gregorius or Andujar to open a spot for Machado seems like the most likely path to a major deal, though Cashman has shocked the world with big trades in recent years. Look no further than last offseason's acquisition of Stanton, the 2017 National League Most Valuable Player Award winner.

Should a team decide to dangle a major talent -- next year's free-agent class includes Nolan Arenado, Marcell Ozuna and Khris Davis, for instance -- it wouldn't be a surprise to see Cashman try to make a splash. The Yankees' farm system is deep and talented, giving him plenty of capital to use in any potential trade.

4. What will the rotation look like going forward?
Luis Severino and Masahiro Tanaka will be part of the 2019 rotation, that much we know. Beyond that, the Yankees have Justus Sheffield knocking on the door from Triple-A and Jordan Montgomery returning from Tommy John sometime during the summer.

Happ and/or Sabathia figure to occupy another rotation spot, but the Yankees will likely try to sign a big arm in free agency, with Corbin as the leading candidate. Other available starters include Charlie Morton, Dallas Keuchel, Nathan Eovaldi and Matt Harvey.

5. Who's on first?
Luke Voit became something of a cult hero during the past month, earning not only a spot in the lineup in the postseason but a prominent spot in the batting order.

Video: NYY@BOS Gm1: Voit plates Gardner with single in 6th

The 27-year-old hit 14 home runs with a 1.095 OPS in 39 games after being acquired by the Yankees before the non-waiver Trade Deadline, supplanting Greg Bird at first base by September.

"He's certainly exceeded my expectations," Cashman said last week. "He's batting close to the middle of the lineup in the postseason. That's pretty impressive stuff and he's certainly taking advantage of his opportunity of playing here and I'm thankful for it."

It remains to be seen whether the Yankees will give the oft-injured Bird another shot, or whether they may try to trade him this offseason. Voit certainly made a strong enough impression for many to believe he'll be the starting first baseman when 2019 begins. For now, the Yankees don't seem ready to give up on Bird altogether despite his injury-riddled run the past few years.

"Bird's ceiling is still what his ceiling was," Cashman said. "The way his season played out, it's been a head-scratcher, but the great thing about our game is he'll go home [after the season] and have a chance to regain all the accolades that was coming his way with performance, and that can start obviously next spring."

Mark Feinsand is an executive reporter for MLB.com.

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