It has only been a couple short weeks since the Cubs clinched game 7 in Cleveland on the 2nd November and ended their 108-year curse. Yet the ruthlessness of Major League Baseball is evident in the fact that Theo Epstein, just named Executive of the Year in the biggest understatement of the 2016 season, is already back to work.
The Cubs, clearly the best team in baseball, are once-again looking forward to next year, so think how the other 29 GMs must be feeling. As soon as Michael Martinez grounded one to Kris Bryant at third and the ball reached the mitt of a jubilant Anthony Rizzo waiting at first, the off-season began. But to move forward you must first reflect.
That’s the purpose of this series of posts, highlighting the highs and lows, strengths and flaws of each franchise in turn during 2016. From this we can begin to evaluate what each club’s offseason might look like, which gaps will be addressed first and who might upset the apple-cart in 2017. This week we’re starting with the AL East:
New York Yankees:
2016 recap: In what could have easily been a bleak season for the 4th placed Yankees, an extensive clear-out of veterans including Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira means that Yankees fans have plenty to be optimistic about heading into the new year. Finishing 84-78 saw the Yankees fall just short of a playoff berth that they flirted with briefly in the final months of the season. The best part of the year, however, might not have even come on the field. Brian Cashman dominated the trade deadline, gobbling up highly touted prospects to stock the farm-system up strongly. Furthermore, the performances of rookie phenom Gary Sanchez restored some much-needed spark, youth and vigor to Yankee stadium, 2016 may be viewed as a turning point for this franchise in the next few seasons.
Offseason agenda: Don’t expect too much this offseason, the Yankees will surely have their eyes on the star-studded free-agent class of 2018. But much can be done this winter to build some strong foundations.
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