Brian Cashman has pulled off a number of brilliant trades throughout his two decades as Yankees general manager, and now one of the more prominent trades is coming to fruition.
Back on July 25th of 2016, the Yankees were very much in playoff contention but were still in the midst of dealing with expiring albatross contracts, and it was a prime opportunity for Cashman to exploit it. He did so with an iron fist, as the Yankees acquired Gleyber Torres, who is currently ranked sixth in Baseball America’s list of the top 100 MLB prospects.
In exchange for the budding shortstop (Torres is also capable of playing second and third base), the Cubs got the Cuban Missile, Aroldis Chapman, who Cashman signed after the 2016 season.
Also right before the 2016 trade deadline, the Yankees dealt superstar reliever Andrew Miller to the Indians for burgeoning southpaw Justus Sheffield and the Red Thunder dynamo, Clint Frazier. Sheffield is ranked at No. 41 on the aforementioned Baseball America top 100 prospect list, and Frazier exhibited his potential last year, as he slugged .448 in 39 games.
Oh, and for Sir Didi Gregorius? Cashman acquired his services for Shane Greene. Anyone remember him? I didn’t think so.
Greg Bird, Miguel Andujar (who I fully expect to win the starting third baseman job, barring a free agent move), Gary Sanchez, and Aaron Judge are all homegrown players. Aaron Hicks was acquired from the Twins for backup catcher John Ryan Murphy. We all know about Giancarlo Stanton. Brett Gardner has been a Yankee since 2008. Tanaka was scooped up by the Yankees from the Japanese juggernaut Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles.
Sabathia has been in pinstripes since 2009. Sonny Gray was acquired in a trade last summer. Jordan Montgomery is under team control through 2022. Luis Severino is a Cy Young candidate already.
So with all of that in mind, what should the Yankees’ lineup look like when they open their season against the Blue Jays on March 29th?
I am fully confident that Gleyber Torres will win the second base job. As much of an unsung hero as Ronald Torreyes was last year, he doesn’t possess the quick hands, plate discipline and power that Torres has. Miguel Andujar is essentially the only third baseman on the roster, and although his footwork has been criticized, his rocket arm and bat speed give him an impressive, uncommon combination of power and speed for a third baseman.
Greg Bird already has the first base job, barring any health setbacks. Of course, the Birdman’s durability has been a problem, as he missed all of 2016 and 114 games last year. When Mark Teixeira sustained a leg injury in August of 2015, Bird filled in admirably at first base and posted an OPS+ of 135 and wRC+ of 137, so the potential is there.
Gregorius obviously has the shortstop job already and hit more home runs than any Yankees shortstop ever last year.
As for the outfield? Gardner is a Gold Glove winner and will remain in left field. Aaron Hicks is another brilliant defensive player, and his cannon arm in center field has saved the Yankees on more than one occasion. Aaron Judge is a defensive juggernaut as well and could have taken home a Gold Glove of his own last year.
Reigning MVP Giancarlo Stanton, who is yet another great defensive outfielder, will likely occupy the DH spot for now but could alternate with Judge depending on matchups.
So, the Yankees opening day lineup will probably look something like this:
- LF Gardner
- RF Judge
- DH Stanton
- C Sanchez
- 1B Bird
- SS Gregorius
- CF Hicks
- 2B Torres
- 3B Andujar
Before you attack me on Judge batting second, remember that he had a 1.291 OPS when he batted second in the order this past season.
I believe Tanaka will be on the mound for Opening Day. As for Severino and Montgomery, due to their youth, they will likely be in the middle or back end of the rotation. That means the rotation would look something like this: Tanaka, Gray, Severino, Sabathia, Montgomery.
Words cannot describe my excitement for this season, and I am looking forward to an amazing season for the Yankees, one that hopefully culminates with a 28th World Series championship.