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  • Cory Claus

Yankees next batch of Baby Bombers

The Yankees showed their hand at the trade deadline. And while it’s fair to criticize the moves that led to that day, the Yankees did the right thing by largely standing pat. Now they need to focus on developing the next round of Baby Bombers.

Yankees bombers who are still just babies

Once upon a time, the Yankees dreamed about their Baby Bombers. They thought they had a group of homegrown players who would lead the team to at least one, if not multiple championships.

It’s a familiar script, one they executed in the Nineties better than any other team since. It’s the same script used by the Astros, Cubbies, Red Sox, Dodgers, and almost every team that’s won a championship in the last 20 years.

The Braves are running it to perfection right now.

But that dream doesn’t come true just because you have it. Just ask the White Sox or the Mariners. They’ve run it twice since 2000, and both times came up empty. They’re currently trying to try it again; we’ll see.

It also didn’t work for the Yankees. Judge has become a superstar and one of the faces of the game, while 1B Greg Bird, SP Luis Severino, and C Gary Sanchez fell apart.

The trade deadline that just passed was the nail in the coffin of their failed execution (coffin; execution; you get it). Now it’s time to talk about what comes next; now, it’s time to talk about the next round of Baby Bombers.

Yankees Need a Youth Movement

Because that’s act one. A team needs to be built around good, young, inexpensive players. Then ownership can afford to fill in where the homegrown talent is lacking, adding a big bat or wipeout closer to the mix.

That’s especially true for the top-heavy Yankees. They’re locked into 183 million for next year, most of it going to just six players: Cole, Judge, Stanton, Rodon, Lemahieu, and Rizzo.

Of special note is that they get to spend ten million of that to watch Aaron Hicks play for the Orioles.

None of that 183 million, however, includes what they will have to spend to fill out the rest of the roster. This year, for instance, the Yankees’ payroll sits at around 285 million.

But the Yankees will have money to spend next season.

They’ll shed approximately 60 million in payroll with the addition-by-subtraction of Josh Donaldson (21 million) and Luis Severino (15 mill). They’ll also lose Isiah Kiner-Falefa (6 mill) and Harrison Bader (5 million) to free agency, and Gleyber Torres (10 million) to a trade for prospects.

Add in a few others, and it’s close to sixty.

Then at the end of 2024, Rizzo and his 17 million come off the books. That will give them extra breathing room. They’ll also be helped by the tax cap threshold going up by eight million over the next two years.

That might seem like a lot, but that money goes fast. Still, the team will be able to add at least one impact player in the off-season and one or two at the trade deadline, with another free agent coming in 2025.

But to keep that payroll flexibility, they have to reload this team with their young farmhands.

Not only will that help with payroll, but also with performance.

The Yankees Have Performance Issues

There are many position players who had their best years when they were young. Francisco Lindor had his best years from the ages of 21-25, and all with Cleveland. Alex Bregman, likewise, was at his peak from 22-25. Even Xander Bogaerts, who is having a good year, isn’t matching what he did with the Red Sox.

Yankees fans need no reminder of any of this. They can point to Stanton and Rizzo as evidence they see on a daily basis. It seems clear that the bulk of Stanton's best years were in his 20s with the Marlins.

That's not to say this is true of all players. Both Aaron Judge and Gerrit Cole are better players in their 30s than they were in their 20s, but that seems more the exception than the rule.

It all adds up to the Yankees making the right decision at the trade deadline, as frustrating as it is for the fans. They expect their team to compete for a championship every year. But because of where the team is right now, this was the best decision.

Now Cashman and company need to make it work.

To do that, they’ll still need some of their prospects to become at least good players, if not stars. Then the Yanks can round out the team with high-end talent, instead of guys like Billy McKinney and Jake Bauers.

Fortunately, the Yankees have some high-end talent coming soon.

Here’s a look at the players who will likely form the new nucleus of Yankees championship teams, all coming over the next two years.

The New Baby Bombers.

SS/2B Anthony Volpe; ETA-Now

Volpe is struggling in his rookie year (.214/.288/.383), but I still believe he’s a five-tool superstar waiting to happen. His time in the minors and the show he put on in training camp all point in the same direction.

Two years ago at the age of 20, Volpe hit .294/.423/.604 with 27 homers and 35 doubles. He also stole 33 bases. He followed that up last year by slashing .249/.342/.460 with 21 homers and those same 35 doubles. Only this time, he stole 50 bases.

That put him in a promising position, as Daryl Ventura pointed out on Medium:

Volpe, “was the first minor league player to hit 20 home runs and steal 50 bases since Andruw Jones did it 27 years ago.”

Volpe seems like a winner and someone who can produce when it’s needed most. We all saw what he did in Spring Training when he hit .309/.415/.618 with three home runs in only 55 ABs.

The jump from primarily Double-A to the majors has been difficult. But I think we’re going to get a far better version of him next year. And the next time the team makes the playoffs, his pedigree suggests he’ll rise to the occasion, as real Yankees do.

SS/2B/3B Oswald Peraza; ETA-2024

Peraza is a whiz at short. I know many Yankees fans don’t think Volpe will be moved over to second, but Peraza is simply better. He’s got the arm strength to make throws Volpe just can’t.

But Peraza also has a chance to be an above-average hitter with a lot of pop in his bat. He moved up three levels in 2021, making it all the way to Scranton as a 21-year-old. When the season was thru, he had hit .297/.356/.477. He added 18 home runs and 21 doubles to that list, for an .834 OPS.

He would have likely been promoted if the infield weren’t full last year. Remember they had Donaldson at third and IKF at short. So Peraza put in most of his work at Scranton, hitting .259/.329/.448 with 19 homers and 16 doubles.

Peraza did get 49 ABs for the Yankees last year. He continued to show his promise in that short time by slashing .306/.404/.429 to go with one home run and three doubles. His OPS of .832, to go with his special skills at shortstop, had Yankees fans salivating and hungry to see more.

He, like Volpe, has struggled this year with the big club, but he’s only played sporadically. There is every reason to believe he’ll be ensconced at short from the start of training camp next year. If he can deliver on his offensive promise, the Yankees will have second and short covered for the next decade.

The only question is whether he’ll have to move to third because of the guy who’s coming in 2025.

SS Roderick Arias; ETA-Second half of 2025

I am normally loathe to say that a player so far away and currently out for hand surgery is almost definitely going to make it, but Arias has all the earmarks of a special player.

You can almost feel it all the way from Florida.

The switch-hitting 18-year-old slashed .267/.423/.505 this year all the way down in the Florida Complex League. Those are good numbers; even better is that he knocked out six home runs, two doubles, and two triples in his 101 at-bats. That was good enough to give him an OPS of .928.

MLB Pipeline's No. 1 prospect in the 2022 international class, Arias signed for $4 million out of the Dominican Republic. He may have the best all-around collection of tools among the Yankees' stockpile of shortstops…
Beyond his offensive upside, Arias has exciting all-around ability. He has run the 60-yard dash in 6.5 seconds, should be at least a plus runner even after he fills out his 6-foot-2 frame and is aggressive on the bases. With his quickness, instincts, smooth actions and a plus-plus arm, he's a no-doubt shortstop.

Arias seems like a rapid riser, just as Peraza was before him. Except he’s younger and with a higher upside. Plus, he’s a switch-hitter. That makes him even more dangerous in the Yankees lineup, and more necessary.

CF/LF Everson Pereira; ETA-2023

This guy has done it the right way, by conquering every level before he’s moved on. He’s a great hitter and an even better defender. It’s hard to say what he’ll do offensively, but whatever it is, it’s going to be a whole lot better than Bader or McKinney.

He’s made it all the way to Triple-A this year at the age of 22. But what’s more exciting is that he’s gotten better against better competition. Pereira has spent two-thirds of his time playing for the Somerset Patriots this year, where he hit .291/.362/.546 with an OPS of .908.

That’s very promising.

But what’s even more promising is what he’s done since moving up. Everson is hitting .337/.370/.593 with a .963 OPS at Scranton.

Those numbers have to be taken with a grain of salt since he’s only played 20 games there. But it is telling that he is not intimidated or overwhelmed by better competition. Now Brian Cashman is considering giving him a tryout this year, as pointed out by Alexander Wilson over at Empire Sports Media.

I hope that’s true because the next Baby Bomber outfielder is still a year away.

OF Jasson Dominguez; ETA-End of 2024

The only reason there are people out there who are skeptical of Jasson is because of all the hype around him. The fact is, however, that he’s only twenty years old and spending the entire season at Double-A.

No, he’s not hitting like Pereira, but Pereira’s twenty-two. By the time Jasson is that same age, my guess is he’s outhitting Everson.

Take this season. His numbers are just okay at .230/.357/.372, but his OPS is a more encouraging .729. But the fact that Jasson has improved so much as the season has gone is what renews faith in him.

In April, Dominguez collected a grand total of just seven hits as he adjusted to Double-A pitching. But he’s become a hitting machine since then. July saw him get thirty hits, with eleven multi-hit games. Jasson also has three, three-hit games this season; two of those came in the last ten days.

And he’s started out August just as hot, getting three hits in the first two games of the month.

Plus, the power is real. He hit sixteen home runs, 23 doubles, and seven triples last year at 19. This year he’s swatted twelve homers, ten doubles, and two triples.

Add in that he, like Arias, is a switch-hitter, and you have the type of bat the Yankees sorely need to add.

C Austin Well; ETA-second half of 2024

Wells doesn’t have the same offensive upside as the rest of the players on this list, but he is still an offense-first catcher with a big-league bat. All reports are that he’s at least league-average behind the plate, which means he should be able to stick behind the dish.

That’s something the Yankees need badly. Especially from a lefty hitter.

They would really like it if he turns out to be most of what he has been so far. Last year, Wells hit .277/.385/.512 with an .897 OPS. He’s down a bit this year at .235/.332/.420, but he is also still adjusting to life at Triple-A.

Even with that, he’s got an OPS of .752 with twelve homers and sixteen doubles. He’s definitely an upgrade over Higgy, with more years of cheap control. Wells doesn't profile as a star in this league, but a switch-hitting catcher with home run power under team control for the next few years is good for any club.

P Yoendrys Gomez; ETA-2025

Yoendrys is a dynamo on the mound. He finished last year with a 2.49 ERA and a WHIP of 1.170. Better yet, he struck out 49 batters in 47 innings, while only giving up one home run. As a comparison, Gerrit Cole is one of the aces of baseball and a strong contender for the Cy Young and he’s given up fourteen home runs this year.

It’s a dangerous pitcher who strikes guys out but doesn’t give up a lot of homers.

And Yoendrys is even better this year. He’s put up a 1.72 ERA while only giving up two home runs. It is admittedly a small sample size of just 31 innings pitched, but it’s still more than promising since he’s doing it at Double-A Somerset.

The only question is, does have the durability to be a starter? The good news is that, if he doesn’t, then he has everything he needs to become the next Yankees closer.

It seems to me the Yankees had another failed starter turn into their closer, and that worked out. Of course, I’m not saying Yoendrys will be in any way comparable to the Great Mariano Rivera. But the Yankees need a real closer, and having that person come from the farm system can only be a good thing.

Diamonds in the Rough

Well, there you have it. Three infielders, two outfielders, a catcher, and a closer. They’re not all going to be stars, but one or two might be All-Stars. The Yankees will still need to find starting pitching, although they have at least the next two years with their top four of Cole, Rodon, Schmidt, and Cortes.

That gives them some breathing room on that front.

Some of you might have noticed the names not on this list, like Clayton Beeter and Trey Sweeney. Beeter looks to me like a good but not great bullpen arm, while Sweeney isn’t doing well at Double-A Somerset.

But he could still surprise. That’s true for a number of players in the system, like Jared Serna or the Monteros down in the FCL. But none of them have the pedigree or time in grade for me to think of them as future MLB players, let alone stars.

On the other hand, the Yankees have had a hard time developing talent.

Maybe they’re due for more than their share of success stories. If that’s true, and a player such as Serna continues down the path he’s on or another prospect becomes a big-time yes, then the Yankees might find themselves floating down the Canyon of Heroes sooner rather than later.

Tuesday felt like a nightmare for Yankees fans.

Now it’s time to start dreaming again, about 2024 and beyond. And a new batch of Baby Bombers.


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