New York Yankees fans aren’t used to seeing their team struggle and considering selling assets as the deadline approaches.
While that’s not the case yet, the 42-41 Yankees are 10 games out of first place in the American League East and are far from the second Wild Card spot, too.
Cubs should do what the Yankees did in 2016: rebuild on the fly by trading a couple of select assets for huge returns that restock the farm system.
— Scott H (@realScottMH) July 23, 2019
They are not there yet, and both owner Hal Steinbrenner and general manager Brian Cashman said last week that they are looking for avenues to improve the team come late July.
Hal Steinbrenner said that he is not "contemplating or even thinking about" the #Yankees being sellers ahead of the Trade Deadline.
— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) July 1, 2021
The Yankees’ current situation certainly raises the question: should they ever consider a proper rebuild?
There Is No Shame In Rebuilding, But…
The idea of an organization like the Yankees entering a rebuild phase is certainly surprising, but it’s not the end of the world.
However, a full rebuild is a sign that some things weren’t done properly.
A well-run organization shouldn’t need to enter a full-fledged rebuild that lasts several years.
The three best examples are the Los Angeles Dodgers, the San Diego Padres, and the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Padres committed considerable resources to the international market and are always active in trades that can net them useful young players.
A strong farm gives them weapons to either promote or trade.
The Rays are a small market team that allocated important resources to the player development and scouting departments.
They trade a burgeoning star, but they have drafted, signed, and developed the next two.
The Dodgers are a combination of the two plus the money of a big-market club.
The Yankees can take pages of those blueprints.
They could eventually consider a proper rebuild if necessary, but the fans won’t have too much patience so it’s not necessarily the best route.
The Blueprint For Success
The Yankees need to invest heavily in scouting and player development, embrace analytics, and other things that can give them a competitive edge.
That way, when they have aging stars approaching retirement or free agency, they can have proper in-house replacements.
They have done this in the last year or two, and they will eventually see results.
In player development, though, they still have some catching up to do, but they are getting there.
The Yankees’ farm system is arguably in the top 10 and could produce several major leaguers in the short to medium term.
That said, the team will likely stay under the luxury tax threshold this year in order to reset it.
We could see more willingness to spend in subsequent seasons.
The reason why the Yankees are unlikely to ever enter a full rebuild is a combination of financial power and perpetually high expectations.
The most important thing for the Yankees is spending those resources wisely: extending the right players, avoiding potentially problematic contracts to players over 30, and things like that.
While it’s theoretically plausible for the Yankees to fully rebuild one of these years, it’s highly unlikely.