For years, the New York Yankees have relied on their older guys and established veterans to lead the team to victory. After acquiring a number of younger talents this offseason, the Bronx Bombers are starting to get that youthful look that helps many teams win championships. The Yankees Opening Day roster had an average age of 29.6 years old, tied for the Royals for fifth-highest in the big leagues. After 2016, that number will drop significantly when a few contracts are up.
On Tuesday evening, the Yankees traded for Starlin Castro, who will be 26 on Opening Day 2016. Castro, who has spent his entire six-year career with the Chicago Cubs, will take over the role of second base, a position that he transitioned to towards the end of the 2015 season. The trade for Castro signifies the Yankees desire to be younger, and some other moves this offseason also indicate the same thing. They traded for former Minnesota Twins outfielder Aaron Hicks in November, and he will serve as a backup in 2016 if Brett Gardner remains in the Bronx.
The Yankees stuck gold when trading for Castro. They got a veteran in a youthful body. Castro has six years of big-league experience under his belt, and he hasn’t celebrated his 26th birthday yet. Castro is a perfect fit for the second base position, providing a bat with a lot of pop in it, and a decent glove in the field. Hicks, who doesn’t have the same experience as Castro, has been a solid player for the Twins over his three-year career. Hicks struggled his first two years in the league, but turned it around in 2015 and proved he can compete in the MLB.
The Yankees top prospects — 23-year-old Gregory Bird and 22-year-old Gary Sanchez, 21-year-old Luis Severino, and 23-year-old Aaron Judge are all expected to be starting in the Majors together within the next two years. These four guys are expected to produce for the Yankees in the short term, and eventually bring a championship back to the Bronx. The youth movement in Major League Baseball is here and now, and while the Yankees are getting in a tad late, better late than never. The Yankees roster does have a few older guys on it, and after 2016 some contracts will be up and it will open up more opportunity to get younger.
Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran’s contracts will be up after 2016, and the Yankees will most likely not bring either back. Teixeira will be 37 when his contract is up, and Beltran will be 40. Bird will likely take over for Tex when his contract is up, and Tex will sign a short-term deal somewhere else in the league where he can finish up his career. Beltran on the other hand will probably hang it up. He is in the tail end of his career, and unless someone offers him a healthy two-year deal, Beltran will retire. Alex Rodriguez and CC Sabathia will fall off the books shortly after Teixeira and Beltran.
The Yankees have been stuck with long contracts, and over the course of the next few years those contracts will be up. The desire for prospects and young players is huge now in the major leagues, and the Yankees are finally on board. The combination of Starlin Castro and all of their prospects certainly shows that the Yankees can be serious World Series contenders for a while.