The voice of the student body

The Dial

The voice of the student body

The Dial

The voice of the student body

The Dial

Devastation in the Dugout to Hope for Home-runs

New Yankees signings and trades lead to hope for better 2024 season
Credit: Rebecca Ingles
Yankee Stadium in October 2022.

It wouldn’t be a surprise to see more Yankees gear around the Hilltop this spring as the Yankees look to improve in the coming 2024 season. There’s no doubt that the 2023 season was disappointing for both Yankees fans and the organization itself. Despite having the second-highest payroll of all teams in the MLB of $276,999,872, the Yankees did not make the playoffs, finishing fourth in the American League East, with a record of 82 wins and 80 losses. As a Yankees fan myself, I felt less than thrilled to watch games last season, either at the stadium or on TV, not having much hope that the games would end with a Yankees win. 

Many factors lead to this let-down of a season, the first one being the amount of injuries that players faced. One of the best players in baseball, the 2022 MVP and captain of the Yankees, Aaron Judge, who is currently on a nine-year 360 million dollar contract with the Yankees, was injured for most of June and July after tearing a ligament in his toe at Dodger Stadium. 

Judge’s injury wasn’t the only injury bringing the team down. After signing pitcher Carlos Rodón to a six-year $162 million contract, the Yankees organization and fans like me were optimistic that he would have a good performance in the 2023 season. However, Rodón was also injured for much of the season, making his first pitching start in July. He started a total of fourteen times, winning only three and losing eight, and ending with an ERA (earned run average) of 6.85 and a WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched) of 1.45, disappointing fans with his performance over the course of the season. 

Other position players who were injured throughout the course of the season included first baseman Anthony Rizzo, designated hitter and outfield Giancarlo Stanton, third baseman Josh Donaldson, and catcher Jose Trevino. 

In addition to the poor outcome of the Rodón signing, pitching was still never fully sorted out for the Yankees; starting pitchers Nestor Cortes and Luis Severino were also injured for much of the season. Severino faced challenges throughout the season, ending with an ERA of 6.65, a WHIP of 1.65, four wins, and eight losses. He became a free agent after the 2023 season and went on to sign with the Mets

Starting pitcher Domingo Germán also had a turbulent season; after being suspended for ten games in May for use of foreign substances, he threw a perfect game, and then was put on the restricted list in August to go to inpatient treatment for alcohol abuse. He had an ERA of 4.56, a WHIP of 1.08, five wins, and seven losses. He was placed on waivers in November and elected free agency, also ending his time with the Yankees. 

One of the more positive highlights for the Yankees last season was the stellar performance of Gerrit Cole, the right-handed starting pitcher who won the American League Cy Young Award for the season. 

The Yankees also simply could not hit. The team came in 29th place in the MLB for batting average (second to last), with an average batting average of .227, 27th place for on-base percentage at .304, and in twenty-fifth place for runs scored, with a total of 673. This factor, along with the injuries sustained by the team, led to the downfall of the 2023 season.

Credit: Rebecca Ingles
Yankee Stadium in August 2022, showing players Aaron Judge, Domingo Germán, Anthony Rizzo, and Kyle Higashioka (left to right).

This disaster of a season has led fans, like me, to criticize the actions of Yankees leadership, but particularly, General Manager Brian Cashman. He was mainly criticized for not making moves after the trade deadline passed in August of the regular season after the Yankees had been performing poorly. Instead, Cashman seemed dedicated to keeping veteran players like Giancarlo Stanton, DJ LeMahieu, and Josh Donaldson in the lineup while they were clearly struggling to perform at the level they were once able to.

To some extent, manager Aaron Boone was also criticized for keeping these players in the lineup, but some fans argue that Boone was simply working with the players the Yankees had on their roster, while the big decisions were mainly up to Cashman.

When two fairly large trades were made in December, Yankees fans including myself started to gain more hope for the 2024 season. First, three right-handed pitchers on the Yankees, Greg Weissert, Richard Fitts, and Nicholas Judice, were traded for Alex Verdugo, a left-handed outfielder from the Red Sox. In the 2023 season, Verdugo had a batting average of .263, 13 home runs, 54 RBIs (runs batted in), and an OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) of .745. He was also a Gold Glove finalist and has played in the MLB for seven seasons. 

Additionally, in their biggest trade this offseason, the Yankees acquired left fielder Juan Soto and Gold Glove winner and center fielder Trent Grisham from the Padres in exchange for catcher Kyle Higashioka and right-handed pitchers Michael King, Jhony Brito, Randy Vásquez, and Drew Thorpe. Soto, a three-time All-Star, had a batting average of .275, 35 home runs, 109 RBIs, and had a .930 OPS in the 2023 season. With Judge, Verdugo, and Soto likely in the outfield next season, fans have more hope for what is to come. Verdugo and Soto are also both left-handed, which adds balance to the Yankees’ primarily right-handed batters. 

The Yankees also need to figure out a solid starting rotation of pitchers, and potentially strengthen their relief pitchers. On January 5th, the Yankees signed free-agent pitcher Cody Poteet, who spent the 2021 and 2022 seasons with the Miami Marlins, and who pitched only one game for the Omaha Storm Chasers in 2023, the Triple-A Affiliate of the Kansas City Royals, recovering from Tommy John Surgery. They also signed Marcus Stroman, a right-handed starting pitcher who had previously pitched with the Chicago Cubs in the 2022 and 2023 seasons, to a 2-year $37 million deal on January 11. These two deals will definitely help the Yankees add depth to their pitching, but it is important for the Yankees to have a solid and consistent starting rotation of pitchers, as well as relievers, throughout the entire season.  

Lastly, the Yankees would benefit greatly from improving their farming system. This system consists of six minor league affiliates across the United States and the Dominican Republic that strive to develop young players until they are ready to play in the Major League. The Yankee’s rank in farming systems dropped to number 21 in August, while they were ranked 13th before the 2023 season started. According to Forbes, the Yankees have spent $59,444,100 in signing bonuses in the past eight MLB drafts, but only 4 of these players ended up playing in the major leagues. Over the past 12 drafts, the Yankees have signed 294 players, 50 of them making major league appearances. However, only 24 major league debuts ended up being made with the Yankees. 

If the Yankees improved the quality of their farming system, thoroughly developing young players instead of spending millions in signing bonuses only for a fraction of those players to debut with the Yankees, they would also see greater improvements from the 2023 season. While this might not be feasible to immediately improve the 2024 season, improving this system would help the Yankees for years to come. 

As a dedicated Yankees fan, I am excited to see what the 2024 season will bring.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Dial Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *