The Runner Sports

Brian Cashman Has Set A World Series Winning Roster For 2019

Over the past two seasons, New York Yankees’ general manager, Brian Cashman, has been rebuilding the organizational depth of the team. The days of signing aging veterans to long-term deals are taking a break. Other than Aroldis Chapman, the Yankees have not signed a player to a contract for more than a season since the end of 2015. Last season, when the season looked bleak, Cashman traded away Chapman, Andrew Miller, Carlos Beltran, and Ivan Nova to bolster the minor league system. If not for a surge of power from Gary Sanchez, the Yankees would have been hopeless for the postseason after those deals. One year later, Brian Cashman became a buyer at the trade deadline and now has a team who should be World Series contenders in 2019.

Other than Todd Frazier and Jaime Garcia, all of the players that the Yankees acquired in July are signed through the end of next season. Tommy Kahnle and Sonny Gray both go through the 2019 season. In exchange for those players, the Yankees gave up six prospects who fell within the Yankees’ top 30 (according to MLB Pipeline). Without looking into the deals, it would surely seem that Cashman bankrolled the future for the 2017 season. However, the Yankees still have five prospects who fall within the top 100 MLB prospects and did not lose any of the key players of the future. Two of the six prospects traded are currently out with serious injuries (Dustin Fowler and James Kaprielian). Plus, the Yankees did not have to touch Gleyber Torres, Clint Frazier, Justus Sheffield, or Chance Adams.

While those moves give the Yankees a chance at making it to the World Series this season, it has greater implications for the future. When looking at the roster, the Yankees have the foundation for a World Series team over the next two seasons. However, next year might be hindered by rookies adjusting to the MLB level. 2019 is the season that Yankee fans should circle for a potential World Series appearance and championship.

The Importance of Holding Torres and Frazier

Other than the fact that Gleyber Torres and Clint Frazier are the top two prospects in the organization, Brian Cashman standing his ground on these two players is vitally important to the Yankees’ future. In 2019, both players should be starting on Opening Day for the Bronx Bombers. By 2019, there will be guaranteed openings at their respective positions; Chase Headley and Brett Gardner will be free agents after the 2018 season. Headley leaving for another team is almost a certainty. Gardner might return, but for the purposes of this article, there will be no speculation about signings.

Frazier is already getting a taste of the MLB right now. With the injuries to Aaron Hicks and Jacoby Ellsbury (who has returned), Frazier was called up. Currently, he is posting a slash line of .255/.283/.511 with 4 home runs and 17 RBIs. Before an 0-for-5 performance on Tuesday, Frazier’s average was .270. His performance will make it difficult for the Yankees to send him down when Aaron Hicks comes back from the DL. Hicks, who is starting his rehab on Wednesday, was having the best season of his career before his injury. Batting .290 with 10 home runs, it will be hard to deny Hicks at-bats.

Meanwhile, Torres is currently out for the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his non-throwing shoulder. He is penciled in as an infielder for the upcoming seasons. Whether that is at second base or third, Torres will be in the starting nine come 2019.

Brian Cashman: Trade Maestro

As mentioned earlier, Cashman bought in for this Yankees team at the trade deadline. However, he stuck to his “careful buyer” phrase by not giving up too much. The best part about what Cashman did was that he acquired three players who will help better Yankee teams in 2018 and 2019. Specifically for 2019, Cashman got a tough bullpen arm and a number two starter. I think Tommy Kahnle is the forgotten acquisition of the trade deadline. Frazier and Robertson were the big names in the White Sox deal, but Kahnle might be the best prize.

Under team control through the 2020 season, Kahnle could be the third head to a monster bullpen in 2019. Between this season and last, Kahnle has a 2.45 ERA, 96 strikeouts in 69.2 innings, and 12.4 SO/9. If he can keep that rate going for the next few seasons, Kahnle will easily be remembered as the best part of the White Sox trade.

The obvious prize from the trade deadline is Sonny Gray. Under team control through the 2019 season, Gray will be the number two behind Luis Severino for the remainder of this season and the following two. A career ERA of 3.42 follows Gray into New York, which could be lower if not for a bad season in 2016 (5.69 ERA in an injured season). Gray’s health might be the biggest concern with his acquisition. But, trading away three prospects who would have been buried in the organization for a top pitcher is genius on the part of Cashman. The Oakland A’s got a nice return for Gray, but it did not hurt the Yankees too much.

2019 Roster Breakdown

Before getting into the details of the roster, a few important things to point out. Only players who will be under contract on their current deals will be placed on the roster. There will be no speculation about free agency, trades, or Masahiro Tanaka opting out.

Pitching Depth

Something that the Yankees have lacked for a long time has been young pitching depth. With the moves that have been made in the past two seasons, that is no longer an issue. In 2019, the first four pitchers in the Yankees’ rotation should be Luis Severino (age 25), Sonny Gray (age 29), Jordan Montgomery (age 26), and Masahiro Tanaka (age 30). If Tanaka remains a Yankee, that will be the front four of the rotation for the next two seasons. Filling in the fifth spot in the rotation will either be Chance Adams or Justus Sheffield. That is a formidable rotation if Severino and Montgomery continue their current development into their primes.

Gray and Tanaka will be the veterans within the rotation, with six and five years of experience for each pitcher. Add in Severino’s four years of MLB experience and Montgomery’s two, that is an established rotation that can help a young prospect serve as the fifth man. If Sheffield or Adams turns out not to be the answer, there is still an organization full of pitching depth. Most notable out of the other prospects are Domingo Acevedo (Double-A/8th best prospect) and Albert Abreu (High-A/9th best prospect). Rather than relying on aging pitchers to fill out the rotation, the Yankees will have plenty of in-house options to choose from.

Three Strong Relievers

In mixture with Tommy Kahnle, the Yankees’ 2019 bullpen will feature Aroldis Chapman and Dellin Betances still. Those three alone are enough to give the Yankees a top bullpen. Betances has a career ERA of 2.20 and SO/9 of 14.5. Since his rookie season in 2014, Betances has been an AL All-Star every year. In 2015, he finished 14th in the AL Cy Young voting as well. With closer stuff, the Yankees join that with Aroldis Chapman, who will be in the third year of his current contract.

Chapman might be more of a question mark by 2019. Will he still be throwing 101 in that season? How effective will he be? Even with a slight drop off by Chapman, he will still be a top 10 reliever in the MLB. He could be replaced by Betances or Kahnle for his closer role, but that does not mean he will not be a force in the bullpen.

After those three relievers, the Yankees will have other young arms such as Chasen Shreve and Chad Green. Green, who has found himself in the bullpen this season (1.83 ERA and 12.6 SO/9) could potentially find himself in the rotation as well. The Yankees will miss Robertson and Adam Warren in 2019, but hopefully Green can help fill that void.

Infield Plus Gary Sanchez

The catcher’s position is set for the Yankees through the next 15 years essentially. But in 2019, the two current catchers on the roster will still be under contract. Gary Sanchez and Austin Romine will both be on the MLB roster in 2019. While Cashman does tend to trade the backup catchers (see Francisco Cervelli, Chris Stewart, and John Ryan Murphy for examples), Romine could feasibly be the backup to Sanchez.

There are only two big questions for the Yankees in 2019. One is where Gleyber Torres will play and the other is who plays first. Both Didi Gregorius and Starlin Castro will be with the Yankees still in 2019. I cannot foresee Torres replacing Gregorius at shortstop with the success he is having at the position. An easier move would be to shift Torres to the vacancy at third or move Castro to third and put Torres at second. Castro and Gregorius are seeing career highlights while in pinstripes, with both seeing career highs in batting averages this season. Gregorius has been steadily improving every year as a Yankee, including his power numbers on the rise. While that could be from a short distance to the fence in right, it is still something that is a positive trend.

First base is the only hole out of all the offensive positions for the 2019 Yankees. At the moment, Greg Bird and Tyler Austin are on the DL with injuries. Bird, who was in the midst of a horrendous season with a batting average of .100, has had two major injuries over the past two seasons. Meanwhile, Austin has not impressed during his short tenures with the MLB club. A career average of .229 in 96 at-bats is a small sample size, but it does not look promising.

A Stacked Outfield

In my opinion, Aaron Judge will not be a career .300 hitter. I believe he will hit around the .270 mark while hitting 30-plus home runs per season. That is still great production for a right fielder and the Yankees will certainly take it. Clint Frazier looks to be the real deal at the MLB level from this season. The biggest question is whether Aaron Hicks can keep up his pace from earlier this season after his injury. If not Hicks in center field, then it will be Jacoby Ellsbury. While Ellsbury receives a lot of flak from Yankee fans, he was in the middle of his best season in pinstripe before his concussion. Before going on the DL, Ellsbury was hitting .281/.349/.422 and playing his usual great defense. When watching Ellsbury at the plate currently, it is obvious that he is not as comfortable as he was earlier this season.

Four quality outfielders are going to play great. Even if there is a rotation, those four players should be able to produce to help the 2019 Yankees have a stacked offense.

What Will Need to be Added?

While that roster will be a stacked one, there are a couple of spots that need to be filled in through trades and free agent signings. After these past two seasons, Yankee fans should have faith in Brian Cashman to make the correct moves. There are three areas that this 2019 roster would need improvement. One is a left-handed reliever for the bullpen, While Shreve is an option, adding a good-to-great reliever to bolster that bullpen, even more, is a wise idea.

On offense, first base might need to be addressed depending on how the 2018 season goes for Bird and Austin. If neither can produce well enough to hold the position, an acquisition should be brought in to play first. Finally, a Matt Holliday type signing should be used for DH. Bringing in a veteran to DH is a great idea, especially on a one or two year deal. Perhaps Gardner could fill that void in.

Griffin Fuller
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Griffin Fuller

Former Division 1 pitcher at Stetson University with an immense passion for the game of baseball. Grew up playing baseball from the age of 3. Student of the game of baseball in every aspect.Located out of Debary, Florida.
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Griffin Fuller
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