After the Bronx Bombers came one win away from the World Series in 2017, and signed the NL MVP in the off-season in Giancarlo Stanton, expectations are palpably high for the New York Yankees in 2018. With Spring Training around the corner, Mike Lindsley identifies the top 5 storylines for the Yankees in the run-up to Opening Day on March 29.
Luis Severino-Masahiro Tanaka-Sonny Gray-CC Sabathia-Unknown. This rotation, most thought, was going to be horrible heading into the 2017 season. And yet, they hung-in for the most part, especially in the playoffs, where Masahiro Tanaka, for example, hurled a gem in Game 3 against Cleveland in the ALDS to keep things going. Is Jordan Montgomery going to keep a spot? Is Chance Adams ready to make the jump from Triple-A? Sabathia being back is good for the clubhouse, but ultimately he could run out of gas. The Yankees need two more consistent arms to produce.
2. Aaron Judge/Giancarlo Stanton Combo
These two are monsters by themselves. Together? On paper the scariest, most powerful 1-2 punch in baseball. Expectations are high. Baseball people are talking about this twosome hitting 100-120 homers in 2018. Spring Training will provide us with a good idea of how packed batting practice is on a regular basis, how many tickets could sell this season, how Giancarlo Stanton handles the media, how these two interact with one another and how teammates handle the hype and their popularity.
3. Aaron Boone
Newly acquired manager, Aaron Boone, has never held the position before, and has never managed a Spring Training. This is the beginning. This is where he earns his beginning stripes in terms of where to put players and what recipes will succeed. The hype starts here. The team building starts here. Year one. We start to see how good Boone can be as Yanks skipper.
Of course, health. This is a key for every team. The Yanks need their key players to stay healthy. Judge, Stanton, Greg Bird, Didi Gregorius and Gary Sanchez. And, especially, all pitchers need to come out of Spring Training healthy. Add your big bullpen arms to the mix as well.
5. 2nd and 3rd bases
Who plays these positions? A lot of it will depend on who develops quickly. Until Gleyber Torres is ready, expect a platoon at each position. It makes since to split Ronald Torreyes and someone else at third base. Torreyes played well in spot duty last year. Is this where Miguel Andujar gets time? The Yanks made him an untouchable prospect this past off-season, which tells you how much the team values the 22-year old from the Dominican Republic. Can Tyler Wade play a little 2nd? Torreyes can play some second base as well. Is Thairo Estrada even ready? The Yanks, it looks like, won’t bring back Todd Frazier unless something crazy happens and soon. It’s only a matter of time for Torres to play full-time when he returns from his Tommy John injury. Is that at second or third? Time will tell.
The New York Yankees’ Spring Training will begin on Feb 18, when pitchers and catchers report to the Yankees’ facility in Tampa, FL.