The New York Yankees had a very short stay in the 2015 Postseason, as they were eliminated by the Houston Astros in the Wild Card game. The Astros did so handily in fact as they didn't allow the Yankees to even score a run. For the team that scored the second-most runs in all of baseball, that isn't the result a lot of fans were looking for.
The Yankees have a fanbase that, like the Cardinals, is used to winning. However, unlike the Cardinals, those victories haven't come in the last five years. Over the past three seasons in fact, the Yankees have only played one postseason game. That might indicate that this winter will represent an offseason of changes for New York.
Where they stand: 2016 payroll obligations
According to Cot's Contracts, the Yankees have just over $183 million in payroll obligations going into 2016. Nearly $50 million of that is committed to the outfield for Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Brett Gardner. CC Sabathia -- who will hopefully fully recover -- along with rotation-mate Masahiro Tanaka will be worth an addition $47 million. With Michael Pineda heading to arbitration, the starting rotation could be something Brian Cashman decides to invest in. Other than those huge payroll obligations, the Yankees will have $45 million committed to Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, which is a lot to pay your first base/designated hitter duo.
Pending free agents
At the conclusion of the 2015 World Series, the Yankees won't have many contracts coming off the books. Only Chris Capuano, Stephen Drew, and Chris Young are becoming free agents, but together, they free up $12.5 million in salary. Although just a fraction of what would go into signing a big-name free agent, it still represents a start.
Capuano is certainly gone, but as for Drew and Young, Cashman could go either way. Drew is a serviceable middle infielder, but was abysmal at the plate. He posted a .288 wOBA and a wRC+ of just 76 (24 percent worse than league average). Young on the other hand could be highly-serviceable platoon outfielder, as he had a .409 wOBA against left-handed pitching.
Other payroll obligations: Arbitration
Only Ivan Nova is going into his final arbitration year while Nathan Eovaldi, Adam Warren, Justin Wilson, and Didi Gregorius are all also eligible for arbitration. Gregorius and the relievers -- Warren and Wilson -- should be easy to retain, while it will be interesting to see what Eovaldi makes in his second eligible year. He had an up-and-down season, but his groundball rate surged to 52.2 percent. He had his best season by FIP (3.42) and posted a career best K/9 of 7.06.
Unlike previous Yankees seasons, they actually have substantial prospect-wealth; the problem is finding a spot for them to play. Luis Severino is almost-definitely in the starting rotation come spring training 2016. However, top prospect Greg Bird will have to find a way onto the roster while playing the same position as Rodriguez and Teixeira. All three players fit the mold of a first baseman/DH, however that unfortunately means they can't all occupy the same lineup.
The Yankees also have to figure out what to do with Gary Sanchez, their 22 year old catching prospect. He'll likely get more seasoning in AAA, but his statistics over the past two years suggest that he's ready to graduate from the minor leagues. He's blocked by Brian McCann however, who owed $51 million over the next three seasons.
Fortunately for New York, Rob Refsnyder isn't blocked by anyone, and he should get a chance to play everyday at the big league level in 2016. He's posted an above average wRC+ at every level since 2013, and in his first taste of MLB action (47 PA's) posted a slash line of .302/.348/.512.
Where do the Yankees go from here?
With the amount of potential issues the Yankees have, fans should remain optimistic that their team could quickly turn this around. After all, having three starting first basemen who all can be great hitters isn't really a problem at the end of the day. Similarly, the Yankees have been implicated in the Zack Greinke sweepstakes. A pitcher of that caliber could help to quickly turn a franchise around. Cashman has yet to tip his hand about what he wants to do for this offseason, but he should act quickly so that he doesn't lose out on any free agents he feels are necessary to the Yankees' success.