The Yankees have been notorious for their failure in the MLB draft to acquire big league talent, or talent that could result in big league acquisitions. At one point the Yankees had only six players on their roster that were a product of their farm system. The saddest part of that is that four of those six players were drafted over a decade ago, they were: Bernie Williams, Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, and Mariano Rivera. This was the way that the Yankees tried to win for the most part after the 2001 season.
The Yankees leaned heavily on big name free agency acquisitions and though it did make for a World Series title in 09, things quickly deteriorated. After large contracts were handed out to players at the tail end of their prime, an aging Yankees team struggled to do anything productive in the playoffs, and then continued to digress after being swept by the Tigers in 2012 in the ALCS, and then missing the playoffs in 2013 with a roster that consisted of: Jayson Nix, Ben Francisco, Kevin Youkilis, Vernon Wells, Lyle Overbay, Brenden Ryan, Brennan Boesch, Brent Lillibridge and many others. In fact, that season the only Yankee player to come through the organization and play at least 60 games was Brett Gardner.
It was that painful 85-77 season in 2013 with a team compiled of mostly journeymen that would signify the change of strategy in the Bronx. In that season, the Yankees found themselves in an unfamiliar position, most of their cash was spent, the farm system was weak, and to top it off the Yankee roster was full of question marks with aging veterans approaching the end of their careers.
The Yankees did however have their highest draft position since they drafted Derek Jeter, but the 2013 draft class proved to be a changing of the guard in New York. With the twenty-sixth pick in the first round the Yankees selected Eric Jagielo, a third basemen from Notre Dame that was slated to be the replacement at third base for Alex Rodriguez. After a few seasons with the Yankees Jagielo was the main piece in a deal with the Cincinnati Reds to acquire Aroldis Chapman. The Yankees would follow up that pick with the most exciting player of the draft, not just because of his freakish power, and strong college numbers, but for his enormous presence. The Yankees selected the monster six foot seven, two hundred and eighty-two-pound right fielder, Aaron Judge with their compensatory pick that gained from Robinson Cano signing with the Mariners.
The Yankees would go on to draft Tyler Wade (134 overall), Tyler Webb (314 overall), Nick Rumbelow (224 overall), Dustin Fowler (554 overall), and though he has had trouble staying on the mound, when healthy Ian Clarkin (33 overall) was also selected in this draft and when he has been on the mound he has been good. The Yankees would follow up that draft with another solid group of picks in 2014 that included: Jordan Montgomery (122 overall), and Jonathan Holder (182 overall) the 2014 draft class is rather remarkable considering that two players that were selected in the fourth and sixth round have already been added to the big-league roster and have helped make contributions.
The Yankees drafts have been a bright spot in the organization over the last 3 years. The farm has produced talent that is not producing for the big-league club, it also produced pieces that were strong enough to help the Yankees acquire pieces via trade rather than free agency. In fact, there are only five players that are currently on the Yankees roster that were brought to New York via free agency before ever actually playing for the Yankees. Those players include: Jacoby Ellsbury, Chris Carter, CC Sabathia, Matt Holliday, and Masahiro Tanaka. With Tanaka’s opt out pending the only Yankee in this group that would still be under contract would be Jacoby Ellsbury.
Here’s a look below at just how the Yankees rebuilt and how they used their farm system to acquire talent before they hit free agency:
• July 22, 2014 – The Yankees trade Yangervis Solarte and Rafael De Paula to the San Diego Padres in return for Chase Headley.
• January 23, 2012 – The Yankees trade Jesus Montero to the Seattle Mariners for Michael Pineda.
• November 11, 2015 – The Yankees trade John Ryan Murphy to the Minnesota Twins in return for Aaron Hicks.
• December 5, 2014 – The Yankees trade Shane Greene in a three team deal and acquire Didi Gregorious.
• December 8, 2015 – The Yankees trade Adam Warren and Brenden Ryan to the Cubs for Starlin Castro.
• December 28, 2015 – The Yankees trade Eric Jagielo, Rookie Davis, and Caleb Cotham to the Cincinnati Reds for Aroldis Chapman.
• January 12, 2016- The Yankees trade Rob Segdin to the Los Angeles Dodgers in return for Ronald Torreyes, and Tyler Olson.
• July 31, 2016 – The Yankees trade Vicente Campos the Arizona Diamondbacks in return for Tyler Clippard.
• January 1, 2015 – The Yankees trade Manny Banuelos to the Atlanta Braves in return for Chasen Shreve, and David Carpenter.
• July 25, 2016 – The Yankees flip Aroldis Chapman back to the Cubs in return for Adam Warren, Gleyber Torres, Billy Mckinney, and Rashad Crawford.
The Yankees were able to completely start to revamp their roster from trades made with talent that they had in the farm system that was good enough to make trades for other big league talent. The trades have panned out in shaping a Yankee roster that is able to go and compete for a title. The Yankees have also used their farm system to produce players like: Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, Jordan Montgomery, Jonathan Holder, Dellin Betances, Luis Severino, Greg Bird, and others to continue filling this roster with solid talent.
The 2017 Yankees are a product of the moves that they have made over the past three years and their drafted talent becoming stronger. They executed almost everything flawlessly and held on to most their top talent while trading away the talent that has yet to pan out. The Yankees will continue moving on the path towards contention. They’ve also been able to add a plethora of farm talent that is as good and as deep as anyone in baseball.
The success of the 2017 Yankees is a bi product of their minor league talent, and brilliant utilization of that talent by General Manaer Brian Cashman to get them to this point. With a great pool of talent in the minors and potentially the greatest free agency class of all time. The Yankees are poised to contend again for quite some time. Look out baseball, the evil empire has returned.