Big things await the New York Yankees in 2020.
While the Northeast longs for its thaw from another winter, the Yankees will take their first step toward World Series contention this week as pitchers and catchers prepare to officially report to Tampa.
Before fans make room for title No. 28 in their trophy cabinet, amNewYork Metro takes a look at what to watch for this spring.
Sweet, sweet health
This is a foreign concept for the Yankees over the past calendar year, but this is the healthiest their team has been in quite some time.
And that’s even with James Paxton sidelined for a few months after undergoing back surgery.
The start of spring training will see the Yankees get No. 2 starter Luis Severino, premier slugger Giancarlo Stanton, the enigmatic Luke Voit, reserve outfielder Mike Tauchman, bottom-half starter Jordan Montgomery, and 2018 Rookie of the Year runner-up Miguel Andujar back into the fold.
Not to mention starting center fielder Aaron Hicks, who is still rehabbing from Tommy John surgery and will start the season on the IL.
That’s a ton of talent returning for a team that won 103 games with a real-life version of “The Replacements.”
As long as they can stay on the field, the Yankees are going to be the overwhelming favorites to win the American League East again.
The Yankees will finally get to see their white whale, Gerrit Cole, wearing their colors down in Tampa.
Cole arrival provides the Yankees with a bona fide ace following a monster season with the Houston Astros in which he went 20-5 with a 2.50 ERA and 326 strikeouts.
He must be the remedy to New York’s Achilles Heel — which was a lack of consistent starting pitching last year — especially because Brian Cashman doled out a record-setting contract worth $324 million for the righty.
The Yankees were already strong World Series favorites heading into 2020. Cole has to put them over the top for that deal to be worth it.
Who’s on first?
When he was healthy, Voit didn’t do much to cement himself as the Yankees’ starting first baseman in his final 21 games of the season, slashing .184/.311/.329 with two home runs and eight RBI.
With Gio Urshela set to take over as the every-day third baseman, the defensively-challenged Andujar could return to challenge Voit at first.
The 24-year-old had a brilliant rookie season two years ago, slashing .297/.328/.527 with 27 home runs, 47 doubles, and 92 RBI in 149 games.
That bat when healthy is too valuable to keep out of the lineup, which means the Yankees could be giving him plenty of looks at first base this spring.