October 18, 2021
The Yankees cut ties with Third Base Coach Phil Nevin and Hitting Coach Marcus Thames today. It was expected and predicted by nearly every Yankees fan on the planet, including me. Good riddance Phil Nevin, you will not be missed.
Now that Phil Nevin is gone, it’s time to focus on the upcoming New York Yankees offseason. There is a lot to cover and a lot of changes to be made. My focus today will be on the outfield. The Yankees 2021 outfield was a mixed bag. Aaron Judge was the Yankees most consistent every day player. Left field was a black hole for the majority of the season. The 2021 Yankees outfield was a good representation of the 2021 Yankees, inconsistent and frustrating.
The best place to start is with Aaron Judge. Aaron Judge needs to be locked into a contract, keeping him in pinstripes for the next several years. Aaron Judge did everything that was asked of him this season. Judge stayed healthy, playing in 148 games with over 600 plate appearances. The Big Guy put together an MVP caliber season, the Yankees would have been in 4th place, not even making the Wild Card game without Aaron Judge. He had clutch hits and even had his highest single season batting average at .287. Aaron Judge is the face of the Yankees for this generation. He needs to be locked into a long term deal.
There have been rumblings of the Yankees potentially dealing Aaron Judge in a “Mookie Betts” type deal. His trade value is at a high and he could bring in quite the haul from a team looking to contend in 2022. I see the reasoning and the value behind an Aaron Judge deal but I completely disagree with it. Aaron Judge is too valuable to this team and incredibly important to the fanbase, he cannot be traded.
Giancarlo Stanton falls under the outfield category despite only registering 26 games in the outfield. Much like Judge, Stanton stayed healthy this season, playing in 139 games with 579 plate appearances. The Stanton hate finally seemed to cool from the foolish Yankees fans who had been booing him the past few years. Stanton carried this team through multiple stretches in 2021. Stanton also showed up in the playoffs for the second straight year. The issue with Stanton is no longer his production, it is his contract.
It needs to be stated as a reminder, specifically to dipstick Red Sox fans, that the Yankees did not give Stanton that monster contract. The Yankees did Derek Jeter a solid and bailed him out of that contract. Stanton’s contract cannot be held against Cashman.
It can be held against the Luxury Tax threshold which is the problem, that contract still hampers the Yankees and may be a potential reason that Aaron Judge is not resigned to a long term deal.
Stanton also has a full no trade clause, he can veto any potential trade. I don’t think he is going to request or approve a trade to anywhere but San Diego. This is an interesting plotline. Giancarlo Stanton mashes in San Diego, his numbers at Petco Park are excellent. The Padres are another team that underachieved in 2021. The Padres have an aging owner who is in “win now” mode. Would the Padres be willing to pick up that contract in order to compete with the Giants and Dodgers in 2022?
Joey Gallo. Joey Joey Joey. Remember when we were excited that the Yankees traded for Joey Gallo? Oh Marone that feels like ages ago.
Pete Rose lit into Joey Gallo the other day and he wasn’t wrong. Gallo was a monster disappointment down the stretch. Can he rebound in 2022? I think it is possible. A lot of players have come to New York and needed time to adjust. It’s a big market and a big stage. Having got some big game experience on his resume, can he come into the 2022 prepared and ready? We have to hope so.
If nothing else Gallo is an excellent fielder and a left handed bat, both of which the Yankees need. If he can make solid contact a little more regularly, he should be able to put balls into the right field stands. It’s all we can hope for since we are stuck with him for at least one more season.
Aaron Hicks is a long way removed from his 2018 breakout season where he looked like a rising star. Hicks was a stud centerfielder. A switch hitter with power that drove up pitch counts. A clubhouse guy who really had the intangibles and fundamentals to take the next step. He was unquestionably the best baserunner the Yankees had since Derek Jeter and Bernie Williams were rounding the bases. Aaron Hicks never seemed to get thrown out taking an extra base despite his baserunning aggressiveness. I really miss that version of Aaron Hicks.
Now Aaron Hicks is an injury waiting to happen. He’s probably nothing more than a 4th outfielder going forward. A 4th outfielder locked in for another 4 years (with a 5th year club option). That contract doesn’t look good in retrospect. Why did Cashman give him all those years when no one was bidding against him? I would really love an answer to that.
Aaron Hicks being locked in as a 4th outfielder for the next four years pretty much guarantees we won’t be seeing Brett Gardner patrolling the outfield again. Gardy was everything Yankees fans could ask for. He was tough as nails and played every game like it was his last, busting his butt and never, ever taking a play off. We’ll miss you Gardy.
I really hope this isn’t the last we see of Brett Gardner in a Yankees uniform. The Yankees need a 3rd base coach and we know Gardner had a great feel for the game. Is a coaching job in the near future for Brett Gardner? I sure hope so
A forgotten Yankee is Clint Frazier. A couple of years ago he looked like an all star in the making, now we don’t even know if he’ll ever play again. I really hope he’s ok, the fact that we know nothing about his injuries make me think he may be dealing with something very serious. I hope Frazier can make a comeback and be a real contributor for the Yankees, especially in the postseason where I just know he is going to shine. But he can’t be relied upon right now, so let’s just hope he gets healthy.
Yankees fans love to look at free agency every offseason but I don’t expect them to be active in the free agency market when it comes to the outfield. The Yankees outfield is fairly crowded and they would need to make a few trades to free up some space for a free agent outfielder. Looking at the list, I’m not overly impressed with any of these guys. I think the Yankees roll into 2022 with a similar outfield to what we saw in 2021. Maybe a trade is made but I expect the 2022 outfield to look much like the 2021 outfield.