As the start of the offseason draws closer with the World Series set to begin this week, the Yankees draw closer to a potentially franchise-altering few months, one unlike anything we’ve seen in any of the past 5-10 years. They’ve got a ton of money coming off the books, a significant chunk of additional money that could be coming off sometime in the next month or so, the current cornerstone of the franchise who may or may not leave via free agency, almost an entire starting rotation to rebuild, a floundering farm system that could finally be in for some major changes at the top, and as competitive an environment in the AL East as we’ve seen in years.
There are a lot of directions the Yankees can go this offseason. They’ve taken one big step in determining that direction by re-signing Joe as manager, and they’ll likely lay out the groundwork for the next few steps this week. The front office brain trust is meeting in Tampa for 3 days starting today, and they’ve got a lot of topics to cover. With rumors of a $300 million free agent spending spree swirling, expect a fair amount of the discussion to center around potential free agent targets, Robinson Cano and Masahiro Tanaka chief among them, and how they can be worked in with the payroll budget plans. There could and should also be discussions about possible opportunities on the trade market and what the team should be willing to give up if there is the possibility of adding a big name player.
While those discussions and the decisions that come as a result are still months away from coming to fruition, there is one decision that can be made this week that can have an immediate impact. That decision would be on the fate of the team’s scouting and player development heads, Damon Oppenheimer and Mark Newman. They’ve been on the hot seat since Hal called that emergency “meeting of the minds” in August to discuss the organization’s failure to develop high-end MiL talent, and with the way Hal and Cash have talked about those problems in the 2 months since it seems like the writing is on the wall.
As I said a week ago, if the Yankees are going to make this move and change things up at the top of their farm system development team, now is the time to do it. The sooner they get new faces in those positions, the sooner things can start to change. There’s a lot of depth of talent in their system, they’ve got a highly-ranked 2013 draft class set to make its full-season debut next year, and they’ve got a lot of guys coming back from injury in 2014. There’s a huge opportunity to change the culture down there at a time when it could return immediate dividends, and Newman and Oppenheimer have done little this season to help their cause. Might as well cut them lose now and get started on naming their replacements in time for the start of next season and next year’s draft.
I wouldn’t expect to hear much come out of the next 3 days, at least nothing different than what we already know about the team’s potential offseason plans. If there is anything major to come out of this week, odds are it will be the announcement that Newman and Oppenheimer are out.