The 2017 yankees lineup won’t look much like the one that started the 2016 season. The house cleaning that began with the retirements of Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira and the trade of Carlos Beltran is just part of a long-term rebuild that has brought some of baseball’s best young prospects to the Bronx. Here’s what I see happening next year and beyond.


Gary Sanchez has already taken over for Brian McCann (.239-19-54/1), and has put up some impressive offensive numbers (.315-19-40/1 in just 209 plate appearances). To the surprise of many, Sanchez is playing much stronger defense than he has been expected.

It’ll be his position for a while.


The Yanks have trotted out seven guys to play first this season, but there’s no clear favorite at this point. The hope was that Greg Bird would get some seasoning this year and take over in 2017, but that plan was ruined by Bird’s season-obliterating shoulder injury. In his place, prospect Tyler Austin hit up a storm at AAA-Scranton Wilkes-Barre, but that has not translated to success in the majors (.197-3-7/1). I expect the job will be Bird’s next year unless Austin can get back on track. McCann could be a last-resort option.


Although inconsistent — sometimes downright shaky — in the field, Starlin Castro has done enough with his bat (.273-21-69/4) to keep his job headed into next year.

Jorge Mateo will be ready soon, and could take over if Castro’s traded.


While Chase Headley has not packed the pop (.254-14-50/7) the Yanks want at third, he has handled the hot corner with aplomb. The team probably wouldn’t mind replacing Headley, but he’s under contract through 2018 and prospect Miguel Andujar is still a while away from being ready.


Didi Gregorius has responded to the pressure of replacing pinstripe legend Derek Jeter with a breakout season both offensively (.276-19-68/7) and defensively. Gleyber Torres is a top prospect, but is still just 19.


Brett Gardner is the last player left from the Yanks’ glory days, but his production both at the plate (.259-7-39/16) and in the field is nothing special.

Still, he is signed to a big-buck contract through 2018, so look for him to stay at least a little while longer. The Yanks have outstanding outfield prospects in Clint Frazier and Blake Rutherford, but they could use some seasoning.


Like it or not, the Yanks are tied to Jacoby Ellsbury for a long time because of a contract that pays him in excess of $21 million per year until 2010 (the team has a $5 million buyout clause for 2022. While his fielding is fine, Ellsbury has been an inconsistent dud at the plate (.259-9-54/18).


With Beltran gone, the Yanks had hoped prospect Aaron Judge would slide into the position without any trouble after a very hot 2015. But it hasn’t worked out that way.

Judge has been a major disappointment (.179-4-10/0) and light-hitting but slick-fielding Aaron Hicks (.218-8-30/3) has gotten the bulk of the playing time in right. A competition between Judge, Hicks, Frazier and perhaps even Rutherford should be the highlight of next season’s spring training.


Since A-Rod rode off into the sunset, Sanchez had been sharing the DH position with McCann. But Sanchez won the catcher’s job, so the Yanks signed Billy Butler off the scrapheap to platoon with McCann. It’s far too early to tell if Butler (.360-1-4/0 after .258-19-96/0 in Oakland) can nail down a position or even half of one, but at least he comes cheap. Be forewarned, though, it’s very uncharacteristic of Oakland GM Billy Beane to eat a major contract unless the player is done.

Butler could figure in at first if all else fails, but would be a major defensive liability.

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