Another week has gone by since we last looked at where the projected Opening Day roster stood, and another few pieces have been put into place. While we'll never be able to definitively say the Yankees aren't pursuing Scherzer or Shields until they sign with another team, it's looking more and more like the plan this offseason is to add small pieces, hope for bounce backs from a few players, and ride out some of these contracts without adding more big ones. Here's how the updated roster looks with the 2 new additions: C- Brian McCann 1B- Mark Teixeira 2B- Martin Prado SS- Didi Gregorius 3B- Chase Headley LF- Brett Gardner CF- Jacoby Ellsbury RF- Carlos Beltran DH- Alex Rodriguez
The trickle-down effect of new players being plugged into key spots is starting to happen. The addition of Capuano bumps Warren back to the 'pen, where he can help lengthen and strengthen the middle relief corps. Headley signing and taking over at third bumps A-Rod to DH, which bumps Young to his proper spot as the 4th bench outfielder behind Beltran. The lineup is more flexible, the defense is better, and the rotation and bullpen are both deeper than they were a week ago. Those are all good things.
Now what to do? Assuming the Yanks are being truthful when they say they're out on Scherzer and Shields, the top priority should probably be figuring out what Hiroki Kuroda wants to do and re-signing him. He gives them another reliable arm for the rotation, moves Phelps or Capuano into the 'pen as the 6th starter swingman, and solidifies the overall organizational depth on a 1-year commitment. It makes too much sense to not happen.
Adding another late-inning arm to the 'pen should also be on the to-do list. The more I think about it, the more I like the idea of a traditional 1-inning closer and a 2-headed setup monster of Betances and Miller in front of him. Signing someone like Jason Grilli or Rafael Soriano to handle the 9th would make the bullpen very formidable and almost make up for the loss of D-Rob. Guys like Wilson, Kelley, and Warren could handle the 5th-7th innings, guys like Esmil Rogers would not be around, and the Yanks would be well prepared to take on more innings in support of the potentially shaky rotation.
While we're on the topic of potentially shaky, the bench still isn't all that great. There isn't an infield bat there that I'm confident in should injuries force any of those guys into regular duty. The Yanks appear to be fortifying their infield depth with MiL deals, but they should keep their eyes and ears open for potential trade targets or FA signings as well. If they can add a better bat than what they've got on a small deal, they should do it.
This team is not a serious postseason contender as constructed. A low-80s win total seems about right. But it is getting better and it's not a finished product. The Yankees have made the moves they seemingly wanted to make and expected to make. Now we'll see if they can pull off something unexpected before spring camp starts in a few months.