Bombers Face Many Big Offseason Questions After Coming Within 1 Win Of World Series

By Sweeny Murti
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The disappointment will soon give way to anticipation.

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When was the last time you looked forward to a Yankees spring training more than you will 2018?

OK, you’ll watch the World Series this week and still dream about what could have been, and maybe it will dredge up some more anger and frustration about the ALCS loss to Houston.

Game 3

Yankees slugger Aaron Judge celebrates hitting a three-run homer against the Houston Astros in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series on Oct. 16, 2017, at Yankee Stadium. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Breathe. Let it go. Now look forward.

When the Yankees get back to business in February, what will the vibe be? Will you be hoping that this time they get to the World Series, or will you be expecting that this time they have to win it?

I think I know the answer to that, but before we get there let’s slow down and try to get a handle on the business that needs to be addressed first.

General manager Brian Cashman and manager Joe Girardi got this team to within one game of the American League pennant, and now both are at the end of their contracts. Given that there has been little or no conflict between Cashman, Girardi and the Steinbrenner family — as well as near universal praise for guiding this team to these heights ahead of schedule — it would be hard to imagine deals don’t get done to bring them both back. Of course, in negotiations anything is possible. But it would truly be a shock to all if there were a change in either the GM chair or the manager’s office.

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As soon as the World Series ends, free agency begins. Masahiro Tanaka’s potential opt-out becomes item No. 1, then CC Sabathia’s expiring contract. I will explore these in greater detail soon, but for now it is not unreasonable to think both will be back in the Yankees’ rotation in 2018.

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Luis Severino and Sonny Gray are locked in. A successful pursuit of Japanese ace/slugger Shohei Otani could end up giving the Yankees five solid starters entering the spring.

The biggest question about the bullpen will revolve around Dellin Betances. Did the Yankees see enough out of Tommy Kahnle and Chad Green to make Betances tradeable? What would be his trade value heading into his second year of arbitration and the obvious lack of trust the Yankees had in him at the end of the year?

Can the Yankees eat enough money to trade Jacoby Ellsbury? They did it last winter with Brian McCann to help open the way for Gary Sanchez. The Yankees could do the same for Clint Frazier if Ellsbury can be moved.

Is there any way to expect Gleyber Torres to be the starting second or third baseman at some point in 2018? If so, how would they handle Starlin Castro, Chase Headley and Todd Frazier? All of them were important parts of this year’s team. Castro and Headley are still signed while Frazier hits free agency. Even with money coming off the books, do the Yankees have the desire to sign Frazier to a long-term deal knowing there is a younger, cheaper, high-ceiling player on the rise? If so, does that make Castro or Headley expendable on the trade market?

Who else — Tyler Wade, Chance Adams, Justus Sheffield or others — will be ready to make big-league contributions in 2018?

And just what kind of encore do you think is possible for Aaron Judge?

Some of these questions will be answered very soon, others much later.

There was cockeyed skepticism with almost every move the Yankees made in the last few offseasons. No matter what kind of spin you were willing to believe, they simply weren’t building then off a season good enough to make you believe they were getting better.

All that’s changed now. Backward is not an option. How many days until pitchers and catchers report?

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Please follow Sweeny on Twitter at @YankeesWFAN