Can the Yankees afford to part ways with their key veterans if they are looking for redemption once the 2019 season arrives?
In 2018, only the San Diego Padres (25.6 years of age) and Chicago White Sox (26.1 years of age) sported a younger starting lineup than the Bronx Bombers, who lined up at 26.5 years of age. In addition to this, of the ten youngest starting lineups in all of baseball, only the Yankees and the Atlanta Braves found themselves playing baseball in October.
As you can see, youth and success do not often co-exist. However, despite falling short of their ultimate goal in 2017 and 2018, the formula has worked quite well for the Yankees the past two seasons.
Does this mean the Yankees front office can afford to let some serviceable veterans walk in free agency?
Entering this offseason, the Yankees have 11 free agents who have an average age of 33.5 years old. The two that immediately catch your eye are Brett Gardner and CC Sabathia. They also happen to be the only two remaining active players who were part of the Yankees last World Championship team in 2009.
Let one of them walk and you free up at least 10 Million in cap space, let both walk and you now have 20+ Million to invest elsewhere. At the surface, it seems like a no-brainer but when you dig deeper you can poke holes in the idea.
When you look around the diamond, can this team accomplish their ultimate goal without a veteran presence who has gone the distance before? I’m not quite sure they can, yet I am on the side of the coin that says it does not make sense to bring back Gardy and Sabathia.
And while there is always the likelihood of backfilling a veteran with another veteran, signs may be pointing to Aaron Judge maturing into that role at just age 27. Regardless, the rest of this young group gained one more year of experience this past October and it is looking like they are going to need to become numb to the big moments sooner than most.