Biggest Winners and Losers from the Yankees' Offseason
Major League Baseball's offseason is undeniably the most exciting in sports.
Once the winter meetings get going in early December, players begin signing contracts and switching uniforms at a rapid pace. Teams are making trades, bringing in free agents and bidding against one another in the name of improving their own ballclub.
That holds true for the New York Yankees, as it does for any organization. After missing the playoffs for the second straight year with one of MLB's oldest rosters in 2014, the Yanks decided they wanted get younger. With this in mind, the Yankees have made several moves that have drastically changed the look of their roster.
As the dynamic of this team begins to change, some Yankees will find themselves benefiting more than others.
Biggest Winner: John Ryan Murphy
One of the first moves the Yankees made this offseason was to trade Francisco Cervelli to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for left-handed reliever Justin Wilson.
Despite being the team's backup catcher since 2009, the Yankees felt Cervelli was expendable thanks to their surplus of young backstops, including John Ryan Murphy, Gary Sanchez and Austin Romine. Of all of those guys, Murphy is the clear-cut favorite to win the job in spring training.
Sanchez is still a few years away from the majors, while Romine has only the faintest traces of an offensive game. Murphy, on the other hand, played rather well during his time in the majors last season.
Filling in for an injured Cervelli, Murphy batted .284 with 23 hits in 32 games for the Yankees in 2014. He showed good contact at the plate. He played stellar defense as well, making just one error behind the plate. Nonetheless, Murphy was sent down when Cervelli returned.
With Cervelli out of the mix for good this coming season, it is all but guaranteed Murphy will be backing up Brian McCann in 2015.
Biggest Loser: Rob Refsnyder
When the Yankees traded Martin Prado to the Miami Marlins it seemed like Rob Refsnyder was a lock to win the team's starting second base job. Then the team decided to bring Stephen Drew back.
With Drew's tenure in the Bronx proceeding, there will at the very least be a competition for second base in the spring. Prior to the signing, Refsnyder's biggest worry was utility man Jose Pirela. After hitting .318 between Double- and Triple-A, Refsnyder was considered the heavy favorite.
Now he has to go up against a guy who is not necessarily more talented than him, but whom the Yankees have committed to paying $5 million. While certainly a better defender at this point in their respective careers, Drew's production, or lack thereof, was miserable in 2014.
He hit just .162 last year.
However, he is sure to get some playing time, which means less for Refsnyder. Best-case scenario, the latter gets time as a platoon player. Most likely, the Yankees will want him to spend some more time in the minors to improve his glove work. Either way, he will be in the majors at some point in 2015; it just may not be as soon as he hoped.
Biggest Winner: Dellin Betances
No one on the Yankees had a more surprising season than rookie Dellin Betances in 2014.
With the reputation of being a bust in the minors, Betances converted himself to the bullpen last year and won a job on the Yankees' Opening Day roster. He was phenomenal, boasting a 1.40 ERA while averaging 13.5 strikeouts per nine innings on his way to a top-three finish in the American League Rookie of the Year voting.
This winter, Yankees closer David Robertson departed for the Chicago White Sox as a free agent, leaving the role wide open for Betances. With the New York native's 100 mph fastball and fall-off-the-shelf curveball, he certainly has the stuff to handle the ninth.
The situation could be very similar to what the Yankees went through with Mariano Rivera and John Wetteland in 1996. Originally a starting pitcher, Rivera set up that year and then became the closer when Wetteland left in 1997. The rest is history.
That is not to say Betances will be nearly as great. However, with Robertson gone, he will have the opportunity to follow a career path similar to Mo's.
All stats were obtained via Baseball-Reference.com.
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