Baseball is right around the corner and that means spring training is nearly here. For the Yankees, there are plenty of questions facing the club as they prepare to try and compete for that elusive 28th World Series title after falling in the American League Championship Series to the Houston Astros.
The Bronx Bombers made a few additions in the offseason, but the roster will look very familiar to Yankees fans coming into this season.
Still, after the season that they had last year, fans will be looking to see the Yankees finally get over that last hurdle this time around and there will be plenty of pressure on manager Aaron Boone and longtime GM Brian Cashman. With spring training nearly here, these are three big questions facing the Yankees.
Who will play left field?
Right now the short answer to that is Aaron Hicks, but the Yankees are aware of just how important it is that they upgrade at that position and how fans may riot if Hicks ends up being their starting left fielder. His time at the position didn’t fare too well as he slashed .216/.330/.313 and defensively he was shaky. The Yankees have kept to the script that they hope Hicks can return to the form he was once at, but an ESPN report indicated that the team has been looking for a left-handed hitting left fielder to acquire.
New York could still try to make a play for Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Bryan Reynolds, who requested a trade out of the Steel City, or in-house option Oswaldo Cabrera could make a push in camp as well. Spring training will start to show us where Hicks stands heading into the year and what route the club will go in with their left field option.
What will this season look like for Aaron Judge?
The Yankees superstar bet on himself last season and made out big time with his new contract, but what will Aaron Judge do this season? Realistically, can he match the heights that he hit last year? Asking Judge to put up another historic season like he did last year would be unrealistic of anybody, however, as the newly installed captain and fresh off a $360 million contract extension the weight of the Yankees world will be on his shoulders.
Judge has shown that he can handle the pressure, but the Yankees will need a strong season out of him if they’re hoping to win a World Series crown. Judge’s outstanding regular season gave way to a less-than-stellar postseason where he had just five hits, had .138 batting average and struck out 15 times.
Have the Yankees closed the gap with the Houston Astros?
This is the biggest question facing the Yankees this season. The Astros have been the Yankees’ kryptonite for what has felt like forever and New York is well aware that they remain the standard bearer in the American League. With the Yankees remaining relatively quiet this offseason, it’s hard to envision the gap closing that much, if any.
The Yankees did bolster their pitching staff with the addition of Carlos Rodón, but that was their biggest move other than re-signing Judge.