While the Yankees do have a serious shot at playing some meaningful baseball this October, many fans are already beginning to look toward 2019 and what next year might hold. Due to the slew of injuries the Yankees are currently dealing with, combined with the Hal Steinbrenner mandate to not incur a luxury tax, general manager Brian Cashman hasn’t had all the flexibility he’s needed to patch roster problems. Because of that alone, it’s easy to see why next season looks so much more attractive than the here and now in many regards.
The good news for the Yankees is that despite power rankings, they possibly have more depth in the minors than any other team. That doesn’t mean they have all the best prospects, but it does mean they have a ton of talent that can make an impact in 2019, either on the roster or as a trading chip. While the prospect on everyone’s mind right now is Justus Sheffield, and he may well be an impact player this year instead of the next, the Yankees have at least 10 players that are rated as at or near ready for play on the big stage.
Justus Sheffield is the crown jewel of the Yankee farm system. As was discussed at Inquisitr, he is already being talked about as a key to postseason success this year. Sheffield was very good in AA, but in AAA he got even better and there are questions as to why he isn’t on the roster right now, especially considering C.C. Sabathia missing one to two starts. Sheffield is rated as MLB ready right now, and the prospect that could have the greatest impact on the 2018 postseason. He’s poised, his arsenal is filthy, and all indicators are that he is going to be a special type of pitcher.
Clint Frazier is ready to go right now. His skills at the plate are not in doubt. The problem this year has been where to play him and injuries. When he got his shot to log some serious innings, he got a concussion and went on the DL. He likely won’t return until the end of August at best, according to Baseball Reference, which is also when most of the other Yankees on the DL are due back as well.
Depending on the Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury situations, Frazier could earn an outfield spot next year. If Gardner has a bad second half, the Yankees might buy out his option year for $2 million. If Ellsbury doesn’t recover from hip surgery well, and cannot play, the Yankees may be able to wriggle out of a good portion of the more than $60 million he still has on the books. They can at least have it covered by insurance if he can’t return. He will make the team, the question is going to be where he plays, and how much time he gets, so long as he isn’t traded this winter.
If it wasn’t for an injury, it is a safe bet that Jonathan Loaisiga would be the third starter in the rotation. He has good stuff, he is beyond his years regarding situational pitching, and at 23, he has a lot of upside. His brief body of work at the MLB level has made him the number three prospect in the organization, and it is a very safe bet that next spring he will be fighting for a slot in the starting rotation, according to NJ.com.
Tyler Wade is a quality ballplayer, and the kind of flexibility he can provide being able to slot almost any position is the kind of thing that teams covet. With that said, his inability to demonstrate he can hit in the big leagues is a major stumbling block to his advancement. Even in AAA, he isn’t hitting much with a 256 BA, 3 HR, 21 RBI, 74 G, and 301 AB slash line. In all likelihood, the way Wade is going to help the Yankees next year is in a trade. While the Yankees need a super utility guy, they are not going to carry one that likely hits around the Mendoza line, which is sadly where Wade is with his 0.171 lifetime average in limited MLB play, according to Baseball Reference.
Domingo Acevedo has the kind of stuff that can help the Yankees, the question is, in what role? He can start and he can relieve. His stuff translates to handling either role capably, but to help as a starter, it would likely mean that Sabathia has to retire to make room for him. The bullpen is full of options, but Sonny Gray and a couple more guys out there may be moving on this winter. He has a 100-plus MPH fastball and is rated as having one of the best changeups in the minors, making for a filthy combination. The Yankees have him starting still, and his numbers are encouraging. When he joins the Yankees will mostly depend on how Cashman retools this winter.
Chance Adams, Thairo Estrada, and Erik Swanson all have the potential to make an impact in 2019 also, except they each come with big question marks. It is possible that one or all of these three players are offered in trade packages this winter to bring in some players that are a bit more polished right now. While it isn’t the way most people think of helping their team, sometimes being traded is what works out best for everyone.