New York Yankees May Look To Increase Their Already Hefty Payroll

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The New York Yankees last won a World Series in 2009.

The Yankees finished this past season with a record of 82-80, landing them in 4th place in the competitive American League East Division.

The Yankees watched the 2023 playoffs from the sidelines.

The Yankees have to catch the Toronto Blue Jays, the Tampa Bay Rays, and the Baltimore Orioles to improve in the A. L. East standings.

It may take an increased player payroll to improve the 2024 edition of the Yankees.

A great start to that improvement may be signing 25-year-old Japanese right-hander, Yoshinobu Yamamoto.

Money Matters:

According to Fangraphs, the Yankees 2023 payroll was an estimated $273 million.

The Yankees have five players on long-term contracts. Those players include:

Aaron Judge-Age 31: 9-years, at $360 million, from 2023-2031.

Gerrit Cole-Age 33: 9 years, at $324 million, from 2020-2028. Cole can opt out after the 2024 season.

Carlos Rodon-Age 30: 6 years, at $162 million, from 2023-2028

Giancarlo Stanton-Age 33: 13 years, at $325 million, from 2015-2027.

DJ LeMahieu-Age 35: 6 years, at $325 million, from 2021-2026.

Playing in only 106 games due to a severe toe injury, Judge still hit 37 homers, and drove in 75 runs. His production was not an issue.

Cole started 33 games, finished with a record of 15-4, and threw 209 innings. The American League Cy Young Award winner, Cole was not an issue. In fact, he helped keep the Yankees from losing even more games.

Injured most of the year, Rodon threw only 64.1 innings in his 14 starts. Rodon finished 3-8, with a bloated 6.85 ERA and 1.44 WHIP.

Given his injury history when the Yankees signed him to a massive contract, Rodon’s season, and his future, can be considered serious issues. Can he make 25 starts? Can he win 12 games?

Stanton, also injured during the season, played in 101 games. He hit 24 homers and drove in 60 runs. Stanton struck out 124 times. His continuing health issues, and his declining offense are clearly issues going forward.

Stanton hit .191/.275/.420/.695 in 415 plate appearances.

Stanton’s batting average plumetted. His home runs declined. So did his RBIs, and runs scored.

An All Star in 2022, Stanton simply didn’t produce as he had in the past.

At his age, LeMahieu may pose one of the most serious financial drains on the franchise.

LeMahieu played in 136 games. He hit .243/.327/.390/.718 with 15 homers and 44 RBIs in his 562 plate appearances. Of significance is the fact LeMahieu’s strikeouts climbed from 71 in 2022 to 125 this season, in just 21 more plate appearances. His batting average slipped 18 points. He scored 19 fewer runs.

LeMahieu may likely be moved around the infield once again next year, playing everywhere but shortstop. How much value does LeMahieu have to offer, and is he taking opportunity from a young, developing player?

The Yankees need offensive improvement.

Yankees Pitching Issues:

While the Yankees roster appears to be weighed down with long-term contracts, the team has to be concerned about their pitching depth.

If the season were to begin tomorrow, Fangraphs lists the Yankees rotation to be:

Gerrit Cole-RHP

Carlos Rodon-LHP

Michael King-RHP

Clarke Schmidt-RHP

Nestor Cortes-LHP

Cortes, 28, made only 12 starts this past season. He suffered from left rotator cuff strains that limited his ability to pitch. Can he be counted on to join the rotation out of spring training?

Right-hander Domingo German, 31, spent most of the season in alcohol rehabilitation. He was not offered a 2024 contract by the Yankees.

Right-hander Luis Severino, 29, was injured often and won only four games for New York. He has signed with the Mets as a free-agent.

Lefty Frankie Montas, 30, suffered a shoulder injury, and was out all year. He has also become a free-agent.

To complicate their offseason planning even more, highly regarded Yankees prospect outfielder Jasson Dominguez has undergone Tommy John surgery. He is likely out until June or July.

The Yankees traded outfielder/first baseman Jake Bauers to the Milwaukee Brewers for outfielders Brian Sanchez and Jace Avina; two young minor league prospects, slated to improve the club’s organizational outfield depth.

It is reported the Yankees may have designs on signing Korean outfielder Jun Hoo Lee, 25, and/or highly regarded, 25-year-old Japanese right-hander, Yamamoto.

There has been speculation that New York also has great interest in signing free-agent outfielder, Cody Bellinger.

Is a trade for Padres outfielder Juan Soto in the plan?

It remains to be seen if the Yankees are willing to add more lengthy contracts to their hefty payroll.

Rumors abound. There sure is plenty of speculation on how the Yankees intend to return to contention.

Conclusions:

With the MLB Luxury Tax in mind, the New York Yankees may have to increase their already hefty player payroll to change the future of their franchise.

Signing Yoshinobu Yamamoto might be a great initial move to bolster a weak starting rotation. That might just be the beginning.

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