The painful stretches of streaky baseball for the Yankees have reared its full head far too many times. Throughout the season, the team has looked anything but the championship caliber team most people expected them to be going into the season. Instead, they look old and a step slow, trailing the Blue Jays by two games for the last wild card spot with a 55-50 record. For a team that always has high expectations each year this is not even close to what they envisioned.
Now granted, they've dealt with plenty of injuries with the most devastating one, being a toe injury that Aaron Judge suffered while making an incredible catch to prevent an extra base hit in a win against the Dodgers. At that time, Judge was really starting to replicate last year's MVP season, and the Yankees themselves appeared to have been turning the corner at the time.
However, Judge's injury has exposed the many weaknesses within the Yankees' roster. Outside of Judge general manger Brian Cashman has constructed a roster with too many hit or miss players. Guys at the heart of their lineup like Gleyber Torres, Giancarlo Stanton, and Anthony Rizzo are too inconsistent, and that's the last thing the Yankees need at this time. Since Judge's injury, they've been dead last in batting average and on-base percentage, while ranking 28th in runs scored.
Cashman also ignored third base and left field which were two positions that had to be addressed over the offseason. It was obvious from last year that Josh Donaldson and Aaron Hicks were major weak links that had to be replaced. Yet despite their age and poor play, they decided to keep both of them, and the results have gone expected. Hicks was released and Donaldson recorded 15 - yes, 15 - hits before suffering a hamstring injury that will likely end his season.
Their pitching hasn't been as shaky as the team's hitting. The Yankees rank ninth in ERA, which can be attributed to Gerrit Cole's success. He might be having his best season in pinstripes, leading the team in wins, ERA, and strikeouts. But there were higher expectations for others going into the year. Injuries and inconsistent play from the other starters - particularly Luis Severino, Carlos Rodón, and Nestor Cortes - have held back their starting rotation.
Despite this season going downhill, rebuilding shouldn't be the first option for the Yankees. Especially when you have a generational player in Judge and an ace in Cole. A rebuild would involve them cutting ties with everyone, including both players mentioned. The team must reload instead by surrounding both guys, Judge in particular, with other players who bring a lot more consistency.
For that to be done, it's imperative that Brian Cashman does whatever it takes to reel in big names. Yes they could get guys like all star third basemen Jeimer Candelario at a low price, but this team needs another star who can make a difference in the short and long term. Fortunately, there are a couple guys on the market who could make a significant impact.
They could look into acquiring Juan Soto of the San Diego Padres. At just 24 years old, he is one of the best hitters in the last six years, and has championship experience having won the 2019 World Series with the Washington Nationals. Although he's enjoying a strong season, there's uncertainty surrounding his future in San Diego. His contract ends in 2024, and if the Padres become desperate to get anything for him, the Yankees could swoop in without having to give up a king's ransom.
But if they want to go even bigger, they could sign the amazing Shohei Ohtani who's having another incredible season, if that's even the right word to describe it. Every time he's out there, Ohtani is making a significant impact whether it's his 148 strikeouts, or his league leading 36 home runs. He's in the final year of his contract, and there's the possibility the Los Angeles Angels could deal him if they aren't confident with negotiations. While it does appear the Yankees will have to wait for free agency to get Ohtani rather than the trade deadline, they must do whatever it takes to land him.