Last season, the Yankees were a little bit of a disappointment. Picked by many to win the World Series, the Yankees couldn't adapt to a season that was heavily affected by COVID-19. This resulted in a roller coaster season full of high and low moments, ultimately ending in a divisional series loss to the Tampa Bay Rays. But as Spring Training is right around the corner, there are many reasons to look forward to 2021.
One reason for optimism is the Yankees' successful offseason. For the most part, they were able to check off some of their important priorities starting with re-signing star infielder DJ Lemahieu. Since he was signed to a two year contract, Lemahieu has outplayed his deal and has become a major contributor to the team. In the beginning of the offseason, the negotiations for a new contract started off on a rocky note, but both sides were able to agree to a deal consisting of six years and $90 million. In addition, Brian Cashman signed two time Cy Young winner Corey Kluber to a one year deal. Despite injuries over the last two seasons, management probably believes that he could add depth to the rotation and become a mentor for the younger pitchers.
There are other bright spots of last year that will be primed to make an impact next season, starting with their 6 ft 7 slugger, Aaron Judge. Last year, he was looking like an MVP candidate during the first stretch of the season, which included six home runs in five games. Injuries put him out of the race, but he returned toward the end of the season, and had a strong postseason. Fellow hitter Giancarlo Stanton also served as a contributor after being sidelined for the majority of last year. While he also dealt with injuries, he returned to play a prominent role when the postseason arrived. Both players have changed their winter routines, in hopes of reducing the amount of injuries they get. Gerrit Cole, their prized free agent signing last offseason, has looked like a good signing for the most part. After a streaky start, he rebounded in September and was very solid in the postseason. With the urgency to win a championship increasing, these guys must continue to produce.
While the Yankees didn't adjust well to the season's modifications as a result of COVID-19, the effect the pandemic had on baseball last year, shouldn't be the case this year. Last season, the shortened schedule affected the Yankees chances of making the playoffs at a higher seed. When there was a month to go toward the end of last season, the Yankees were barely in the playoff picture at a record of 21-21. Had that been in a 162 game season, there wouldn't have been any concern, but here were the Yankees in danger of missing the playoffs. They then went on a tear as the season ended, going on a 10 game winning streak, the kind of momentum that they're usually able to maintain with a full schedule.
Even with last year's disappointing finish, there were still some bright spots that will be essential going into next season. In what will likely be a less uncertain baseball season, the Yankees should be able to rediscover their winning ways on a more consistent basis. On top of that, they checked off some of their most notable offseason priorities. This is a team that can really break through the playoffs and hopefully capture a long-awaited 28th championship.