The Yankees need upgrades in their outfield. Starling Marte fits the bill except for one thing. What happened to “getting younger”?
The Yankees, according to multiple reports, including one from The Athletic’s Jim Bowden, indicate that Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has talked to the Marlins about center fielder Starling Marte.
The Yankees’ hole in centerfield is gaping, and it’s fair to say the team hasn’t had a full-time major league player in that position since Bernie Williams.
As a veteran of ten seasons with the Miami Marlins, it’s also fair to say that Starling Marte has all the numbers that make him the all-around player any team would relish having in their lineup.
Marte has a career BA of .287 with a .343 on-base percentage. He can steal a base (268) and hit with a modicum of power (121 HR’s).
In the field, Marte has committed only 34 errors (about three per season) while collecting 80 assists and saving an average of eight runs per season for his team.
In short, Marte is the whole package – except that for the Yankees, he must be categorized as caveat emptor (buyer beware).
Yankees: Compounding Previous Mistakes
For one thing, the Yankees are already overstocked with right-handed batters in their lineup, and Marte would only add another one.
Marte doesn’t change the face of the Yankees, he makes it worse, and with the expected departure of Brett Gardner next year, the Yankees might be looking at an all-righty lineup.
Now, it’s also true the Yankees are openly lobbying to acquire power lefty Joey Gallo from the Texas Rangers to pepper the short porch at Yankee Stadium while adding 200+ strikeouts to a team that already misses the ball abundantly.
But that’s another story – back to Starling Marte because we haven’t yet touched on the one thing that makes his acquisition contrary to the direction the Yankees should be heading in.
Marte is 32, and by next season he will be well beyond what is typically considered a position player’s prime years of 27-31.
Yankees: How Old Are You Now
According to ESPN, the Yankees are the twelfth oldest team in the major leagues (29.2).
In 2017 when the Yankees were unofficially “rebuilding,” Brian Cashman told MLB.com, “You want to get younger, more athletic, and good. “It’s definitely very important.”
Cashman succeeded in bringing in Didi Gregorius, Nathan Eovaldi, Dustin Ackley, Aaron Hicks, and second baseman Starlin Castro.
Noticeably, none of those players are still with the Yankees, having been dealt away in other trades (Castro for Giancarlo Stanton), lost through free agency (Gregorius), or tied up in a swamp of injuries (Hicks).
Yankees: Talking The Talk But Not Walking The Walk
With the Yankees, the talk is there, but the walk is not, or at least it’s not sustained.
If indeed, Hal Steinbrenner sees the Yankees as buyers and not sellers and is willing to give his GM the okay to spend some money this year, Joey Gallo, at 28, makes more sense than Starling Marte or any player in Marte’s age range.
To get younger and more athletic, the Yankees can look to players they already have on the roster, like Greg Allen (28), whom they acquired in a trade with the Padres.
In last night’s 9-1 win over the Red Sox, Allen contributed a hit to drive in a run, a walk and scored two runs. Give him some playing time, and who knows?
The Yankees also have an 18-year-old, nicknamed “The Martian” in Jasson Dominguez, to give all their love and TLC as he progresses through the farm system.
Rumored to be 18 going on 28 because of his maturity and baseball savviness, Dominguez will be in the Bronx in a New York minute if the Yankees don’t mess with him.
As seen in this video, “celebrating” his first home as a professional ballplayer, the hype will continue, but all signs show the kid can take it.
WATCH: Jasson Dominguez first homerun with the #Tarpons! 🙌🙌#Yankees #MiLB pic.twitter.com/mMvlrhCyii
— Tampa Tarpons (@TampaTarpons) July 16, 2021
Yankees: Seeking The Balance
The Yankees are still in this thing, at least from the standpoint of stealing the second Wild Card spot from the Oakland A’s.
Only 3.5 games removed from the A’s and one game behind Seattle and Toronto, the Yankees, 7-3 over their last ten, are playing good baseball.
But here’s the thing. The Yankees need to be forward-looking as much as they do what they have to do to improve the team for this year.
DJ LeMahieu is 33, and when he’s playing the final year of his contract, he’ll be 37. Giancarlo Stanton is 31, and when he limps to the last year of his contract, he’ll be 38.
Time flies, and even Aaron Judge is playing this year at age 29, and should the Yankees decide to offer him the long-term deal he’ll be seeking after next season – he too will be well into his thirties before his contract expires.
Players get older, not younger. I get that, but at some point, the Yankees need to turn the corner by developing young talent from within (and not trading them away).
If trades are the only alternative as they appear to be at the moment, there is no sense in adding a player like Starling Marte, who will only add to the problem.
Instead, the Yankees should set their sights on players from teams like Detroit (the youngest team in MLB), Cleveland (average age 27.2), or Baltimore (27.5).
As Yankees President Randy Levine said six years ago in 2015 about the Yankees, “We’re trying to win every year, and we’re trying to get younger and transition. Most teams have two, three, four years to rebuild. We don’t do that.’’
The Yankees, in fact, already struck a balance once in recent years with the introduction of Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez, both developed internally, plus the addition through trades of Gleyber Torres and Clint Frazier.
And lo and behold, it was Brian Cashman, the man being urged to walk the plank by many Yankees fans now, who made all of it happen.
Cashman Did It Once – Why Not Again
Cashman himself may be getting old and weary from two decades of doing his job, and if he is, then maybe it’s time for the Yankees to get younger in that department as well.
Only Hal Steinbrenner can make changes at that level, and as of today, he appears to be leaving all his apples in Cashman’s basket.
Balancing the always-present need for the Yankees to win today (with older veteran talent) against their future remains the team’s biggest and most difficult challenge.
But to compete against teams in the 2020s, and unlike the past, the Yankees risk in adding players needs to fall on the side of youth, athleticism, and players who are controllable for as many as six years.
Otherwise, it’s only going to be more of the same ole, same ole…
Here’s What Readers Are Saying…
Steven Kenworthy I’d prefer the other Marte, but perhaps Cashman prefers the older and cheaper version. Author’s Reply: Presumably, Steven is referring to Ketel Marte, an infielder/outfielder for the Diamondbacks and Starling’s younger brother.
Stephen Guardino Honestly we’re not leapfrogging Boston, Tampa, and Toronto and those teams are only getting better. Time to rebuild with some new blood.
Robert Chigi There is no reason to pick up another right-handed hitting outfielder.
John Casale They’re not concerned with age right now. They want to give themselves a chance this year before they worry about the future. IMO we should be sellers but they probably won’t do that
Jerry A Lewis Jr. Couple of things: how many years are left on his contract? And because it’s the Marlins and our well-established relationships with Jeter and the GM will we give up less to get him? Author’s Reply: His contract is up this year and he has turned down $70 million offer from the Marlins. The Yankees would owe him about $6 million for the remainder of this year. Good heavens! Really?
Gary Palmer Usually you get younger by either developing players or by selling vets for prospects. Winning now sometimes means you get older and lose the young prospects needed to win tomorrow. It’s tough to do both at the same time. Author’s Reply: That’s why Cashman gets paid the big bucks…
Joe Kepler Marte makes sense for many reasons. He’s a free agent after the season, provides steady CF play and speed and shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg to acquire. While I agree the Yankees should look to get younger, what happens if Hicks is done done? They’ll need a CFer for next season and the Yankees can try to re-sign him if needed.
Closing Published Comments And Final Thoughts
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Four games with the Red Sox and three with Tampa Bay will determine the Yankees fate as buyers or sellers at the deadline.