Girardi understands trying to win now while rebuilding
NEW YORK (AP) — Joe Girardi understands what the New York Yankees are doing with their roster: rebuilding without jettisoning all veterans, maintaining a chance of winning now while preparing for the future.
“We’re trying to win a World Series as soon as possible, and we’re building towards that,” the Yankees manager said Monday after a taping of the YES Network’s “CenterStage.”
“As some of our players that have been here a long time are nearing the end of their contracts and are older, we’re filling in with younger players, which I think is important,” he said.
While Boston signed left-hander David Price to a $217 million, seven-year deal and traded for closer Craig Kimbrel, New York has made more moderate moves.
“People have asked me a lot about: The Yankees didn’t make a big splash this offseason,” Girardi said. “Well, every one of our positions is in a long-term contract.”
The only exception among the starting nine is at shortstop, where Didi Gregorius was obtained from Arizona before the 2015 season and is eligible for salary arbitration for the first time.
New York obtained second baseman Starlin Castro from the Chicago Cubs last week along with a pair of minor league starting pitchers in a deal with Detroit, Luis Cessa and Chad Green. But the Yankees gave up right-hander Adam Warren and left-hander Justin Wilson, a big part of their setup staff this year for closer Andrew Miller and eighth-inning regular Dellin Betances.
“As much as I hate to lose Adam, and I think he was really important, you’re getting an everyday player that’s a right-handed hitter, which I think is important for us to have, more of a balance,” Girardi said.
General manager Brian Cashman expects to make more moves. He has explored trades of Miller and left fielder Brett Gardner.
“It hasn’t and isn’t part of our DNA to accept that full-blown commitment to a rebuild,” Cashman said last week at the winter meetings. “I think the ownership’s comfort level is walking that tightrope rather than tear down and live to fight another day. The public stated goal is to get younger and compete for the championship every year.”
And Girardi thinks the bullpen candidates could expand.
“It’s a long time before we go to spring training, so those names could be different than the cast of characters that we’re pulling from now,” he said.
Left-handers Jacob Lindgren and James Pazos are considered international candidates along with right-handers Branden Pinder and Nick Rumbelow.
When the Yankees report to spring training in mid-February, Girardi hopes former Yankee Alfonso Soriano will help continue to mentor Castro. Girardi expects Carlos Beltran and Alex Rodriguez to also provide guidance.
Rodriguez, who made his big league debut in 1995 at age 18, will be in his 22nd major league season.
“He’s always mentored,” Girardi said, “but now he’s the gray, old, grizzly guy that is doing a lot of it.”