Column: Yankees on the hunt for title No. 28

New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez stretches before taking batting practice during a spring training baseball workout Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

At first glance, the New York Yankees’ offseason appears to have come and gone without much activity. All of the major free agents on the market – David Price, Zack Greinke, Johnny Cueto, and more – signed with new teams without giving the Bronx so much as a second thought.

While New York hasn’t signed a single free agent to a major league deal this winter, their offseason is certainly nothing to scoff at. The Yankees have made a series of smart, calculated moves that will have them compete for World Series title number 28 very soon.

Aroldis Chapman was clearly the Yankees’ biggest pickup this offseason. The 28 year-old Cuban closer joins a bullpen already loaded with big arms, and his arrival only adds to the dominance the Yankees have had on the mound in the late innings.

Chapman will take a chunk of the burden off of relievers Andrew Miller and especially Dellin Betances, who showed signs of losing his pinpoint control towards the end of the 2015 season.

The MLB announced Tuesday that Chapman will serve a 30-game suspension to start the season following an offseason domestic violence incident. He will not appeal the suspension. Everybody knew that some sort of discipline was coming, allowing New York to score Chapman for a serious bargain.

The Yankees gave up four prospects for Chapman, but managed to work the deal so that they kept their top minor leaguers – notably Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, and Jorge Mateo – in the organization.

All in all, the Chapman trade makes sense for both teams. The Yankees acquired a star reliever that could feature as their closer for the next few years without giving up their immediate future. The Reds, who have essentially been in firesale mode since last season, managed to land some prospects for a player they weren’t going to be able to resign anyways.

While the Chapman move was the Yankees’ most publicized move, it certainly wasn’t their only one. New York also acquired Starlin Castro in a trade from the Cubs and Aaron Hicks in a trade with the Twins. With these moves, the Yankees managed to address two positional needs, again without sacrificing integral parts of the team.

The Yankees acquired the 25 year-old Castro, a three-time All-Star, for Adam Warren and Brendan Ryan. Ryan was a utility player for the Yankees last year, but wasn’t productive enough offensively to break into the regular lineup. Warren was the odd man out of the starting rotation, but was too good to be stuck in the bullpen as a long reliever. It was just time to move on.

Castro will bring a measure of stability at second base for the Yankees, who couldn’t find a player last year that could both hit and play defense. Second base has been an offensive dead zone for New York, but Castro should remedy that almost immediately, hitting .281 over six seasons, and notching at least 145 hits and 10 home runs in each of his last five seasons.

Finally, New York found their fourth outfielder in a straight up swap with the Twins. They sent John Ryan Murphy to Minnesota for Aaron Hicks, a young outfielder with experience at all three positions. The Yankees outfield will likely take a beating again this season, granting Hicks a ton of playing time.

The Yankees gave up Murphy, who happened to be the catcher in between Brian McCann and Sanchez. McCann will start the majority of the games, and Sanchez needs the major league reps as soon as he can get them. Murphy was caught in between the two, and should see an increased role in the Twins organization.

I don’t think the Yankees will win the World Series this year. However, I do believe that this offseason will play a big part in setting up title number 28 in the near future. New York didn’t go out and sign any big name free agents, but then again, they didn’t need to.

Why bother overpaying a mediocre group of free agents this year when that money can be more wisely spent on the farm system and upcoming free agents?

The Yankees are on the verge of offloading several expensive contracts over the next two years. Only then will we see the front office decide to splash the cash and try to lure some of the big names hitting the free agent market. Combine that with the wave of minor league talent ready to break into the big leagues and it’s only a matter of time until we see that 28th championship come home to the Bronx.


Pete Harasyko is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at peter.harasyko@uconn.edu.