The Yankees are in the closing stages of Hal Steinbrenner’s rebuilding plan, and they should not deviate from it now, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. That means they must give young players the opportunities they need, both in the minors and in the big leagues. Sherman cites the example of Aaron Judge, a flawed but interesting player who might need extensive development time in the Majors before he hits his ceiling. The Yankees have a number of big-league players, like Greg Bird, Luis Severino and Luis Cessa, who will also require patience to develop, along with a very talented group of minor leaguers. Sherman notes that teams like the Cubs and Red Sox made their aggressive pushes only when it was clear they had a core of young talent that was ready to help. The Yankees should also be looking to accumulate financial flexibility, so that, in a couple years, when they’re a bit older and players like Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Josh Donaldson and Shohei Otani are available as free agents, the Yankees will be in the best possible position to add them to their own strong core. Here’s more from the East divisions.
- Sean Rodriguez’s big step forward last year was propelled by changes he made to his plate discipline against righties and to his launch angles, Eno Sarris of FanGraphs writes. Even if he doesn’t retain all of his 2016 improvement next season, though, he’s a good match for the Braves, Sarris opines. Rodriguez’s abilities to hit lefties and play several positions give the Braves platoon options at second base (with Jace Peterson) and the outfield (with Nick Markakis). Also, the relatively cheap $11.5 million guarantee limits the Braves’ downside if Rodriguez fails to live up to his surprising 2016 performance.
- The Rays haven’t yet made any significant moves this offseason, and some of the deals made by other teams might have thwarted them to a degree, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times suggests. Jason Castro and Brett Cecil stood out as potential fits for the Rays, but other teams signed them at relatively high costs. GM Erik Neander, though, says the opportunities available later in the offseason might turn out to be better for the Rays. “Early offseason signings are typically the result of a very competitive market for those players,” says Neander. “Sometimes it’s difficult to contend with that, but not always. Our job is to be prepared, try to do our evaluations correctly, wait for the right opportunity to arise and be in position to strike when it does.”