With the 2016 season now over, Brian Cashman held his annual State of the Yankees press conference at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday. When asked what he thought was their biggest need, he was very candid and at one point he said flatly “our offense was bad.” No sugarcoating it. Now, that said, it doesn’t sound as though the Yankees are planning to jump into anything big in an effort to score more runs going forward. Plan A is to stick with the kids and hope guys like Aaron Judge and Greg Bird and others contribute more next season than they did this season. But when Brian Cashman sits down with the rest of the front office in the coming days and weeks to formulate a winter plan, it's pitching that will likely dominate the conversation.
Overall the Yankee pitching was awful, both in the bullpen and the starting rotation (with the exception of Tanaka). The back end of the bullpen before the trade deadline was certainly it’s strength, but the rest of the pen was full of guys like Kirby Yates and Chasen Sherve who were very inconsistent and failed miserably during big spots. As it stands now Dellin Betances is lined up to return as the closer, with Adam Warren and Tyler Clippard both under team control. There's a possibility the Yankees could try to bring back Aroldis Chapman as a free agent, which would push those three relievers back a spot in the bullpen's pecking order, but after watching his team's middle relief fail often this season. The focus should be there and not at the end.
As for the starting rotation, it will return Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia and Michael Pineda, while youngsters including Luis Severino, Luis Cessa, Chad Green and Bryan Mitchell will have their chance to win jobs next spring. Cashman seems dedicated to bolstering the pitching staff from top to bottom this winter. As he should.
Will Cashman gut his prized farm system to add an impact pitcher or two? I’d argue Sale is a piece you go get no matter what because he’s so good, so young, and so cheap that he makes any team better. He could help get the Yankees over the hump and into the postseason next year, and still be ace caliber when the kids hit their primes. As for the bullpen, you try and bring back Chapman, and then go from there.
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