Thursday, February 27, 2014

It may seem silly, but with the departure of Robinson Cano, and the eventual retirement of Derek Jeter, the Yankees couldn't afford to lose another key homegrown player. That is one reason why so many fans were happy with Brett Gardner's surprising extension. Teams may not get extra wins for developing their own talent, but fans still like the idea of teams developing their own talent. The funny thing about this way of thinking is that the Yankees may have blocked a future homegrown star, by retaining Gardner.

The Yankees have a few major league ready outfield prospects, and some of these outfielders are, or were, top prospects. Guys like Mason Williams, Slade Heathcott, Tyler Austin, and Ramon Flores were all thought of as possible future starters. Before this offseason, these players seemed to have multiple spots to battle for.

The team looked like it would need replacements at each outfield position by 2015. But now these players just have one outfield spot to fight for.

Some have wondered what the team will do with these players now, or how this affects their development. In my opinion people are overreacting to the Gardner extension. The presence of Gardner shouldn't change anything.  These players aren't going to be less motivated by having one less spot to fight for, and the Yankees shouldn't look to trade a prospect just because they can.

Instead the team should simply focus on developing these prospects. The best course of action for the Yankees franchise is too develop all these players and hope each of them can rebound from their poor 2013. Because quite frankly they all had poor seasons in 2013. All four of these prospects can elavate their stocks next season and increase their trade value.

Furthermore, we should consider the fact that the Yankees may need all the outfield depth they can get. Carlos Beltran and Alfonso Soriano are both older players, and Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury aren't exactly iron-men. There's no reason to think that Heathcott can't be a useful piece next year as injury insurance, assuming he could somehow stay healthy. If the Yankees feel they have a surplus of outfielders after the season or even at the trade deadline then they can  think about making a move, but at this point they should stand pat.

If the Yankees do decide to alter the develop paths of some of their outfield prospects it should only be to make them more versatile, for instance the team may want to consider pushing Austin to the infield. He has experience playing third and it would be great if he actually became a viable option at the position. Williams was also an infielder at one point but it's much harder to conceive him ever playing their again. Though I suppose he has the athletic ability to do so.

There's nothing wrong with having depth, and even if a prospect or two losing some playing time while Gardner is under contract, they can conceivably wait until Brett and Beltran are gone to get a starting spot. Their is nothing wrong with having overly talented reserve options and after last year's injury plagued season it would be a welcomed sight.

It's also important to remember the Yankees didn't give Gardner a no-trade clause, so if a situation arises where they have too much outfield talent, they could always trade him. At the end of the day, this move affects a player like Zoilo Almonte more than it affects any major prospect.


Josh Sabo is a Minor League Writer for Yanks Beat Blog.


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