In the year 2016, the New York Yankees were not the storied franchise team that their fans were used to. You can make a case that the Yankees were not that kind of team since their 2009 World Series Championship honestly. The Yankees rode out the final years of Yankee icons and certain hall of famers Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera and tried to win more titles with them, it did not work. The Yankees became an older and boring team with no flexibility. However, because the Yankees were not the cream of the crop in 2016, it quite possibly was the best thing to ever happen to their franchise going forward. It allowed the Yankees to return to how they built their dynasty run in the late 90s and early 2000s.
The New York Yankees always had a mantra; that mantra was win the World Series or the season is a failure. After securing their 27th World Series championship in 2009 who can blame them? The franchise only knew winning. However, as we know all good things eventually come to an end. The Yankees were a bubble playoff team at best from 2012 to 2016. In 2016, while they weren’t a bottom feeder, they were a team full of older, boring players. There was no excitement in the Bronx anymore as evident by the lack of seats filled and the lack of ratings from the YES Network; fans wanted something different, they wanted change, they wanted the Yankees to worry about the future rather than the present. This is something that would be considered unheard of if you know Yankee fans. The next few weeks of losing would shape the future of the New York Yankees going forward and the excitement that fans are feeling today.
So what exactly happened in a mere weeks that would change the Yankees future and bring excitement back to the Bronx? They did something many thought they would never do they waved the white flag. They had what baseball deems a fire sale signed off by owner Hal Steinbrenner. This was actually what Yankee fans believe it or not were hoping for as the season went along as they knew the team presently constructed at the time was not anywhere good enough for their “World Series or bust” mantra that they knew for so long. The fans wanted to see the farm system get a chance like the glory days of the late 90s and early 2000s. They wanted to add to the farm system that was already middle of the pack and had guys like Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and others. They wanted to cash in on valuable veteran players to make it even better and prepare for the future. The fans demanded it and the Yankees obliged. They traded closer Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs for a 20 year old short stop named Gleyber Torres, as well as OFs Billy McKinney, and Rashad Crawford and relief pitcher Adam Warren. They then traded their other closer left handed pitcher Andrew Miller to the Indians and in return received OF Clint Frazier, SP Justus Sheffield and right handed relievers Ben Heller and J.P. Feyersien. A few days later the Yankees finished off their fire sale by trading DH Carlos Beltran to the Texas Rangers and received right handed pitchers Dillon Tate and Erik Swanson as well as trading starting pitcher Ivan Nova to the Pirates. The Yankees also traded catcher Brian McCann in the off season to the Astros for pitchers Albert Abreu and Jorge Guzman. It was pretty clear that despite Brian Cashman saying the Yankees weren’t throwing in the towel they were. Those trades took the Yankees from a middle of the pack farm system to the best in baseball depending on who you ask. The Yankees also promoted some of their own players fans wanted to see such as catcher Gary Sanchez, OF Aaron Judge, OF/1B Tyler Austin among others.
The next year later Brian Cashman saw the fruits of what he was hoping one day would be the next great Yankees core or foundation if you will. In 2017 Luis Severino turned into an ace, Aaron Judge was the runner up for AL MVP and Gary Sanchez was the future behind home plate; combine that with players they already had such as veterans Masahiro Tanaka, Didi Gregorious and Aroldis Chapman who they signed a few months after trading him away, the Yankees made the seventh game of the American League Championship series. Along the way to their magical playoff run, Brian Cashman used some of that farm system and acquired starting pitcher Sonny Gray, relievers David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle and 3B Todd Frazier all who played an instrumental run to coming one game from making yet another World Series.
A year later, here the Yankees today sit with a record of 25-10 and have won 16 of their last 17 games. Not only is Aroldis Chapman still closing games for them, but Gleyber Torres the 20 year old they traded Chapman for is in the major leagues contributing almost every day on this historic run. They still have Luis Severino, Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge as part of their foundational core. They are on a historic run right now and they still have the other guys in those fire sale trades like Clint Frazier, Justus Sheffield, Dillon Tate, Albert Abreu among others still to come. The Yankees are never known for waving the white flag, but when Brian Cashman finally convinced owner Hal Steinbrenner to do it he changed the future of the New York Yankees, not only on the field but in the stands as well as Yankee Stadium is packed once again today and there’s an excitement that they haven’t felt in the Bronx since 2009.