The New York Yankees were under the proverbial microscope heading into the offseason after finishing the 2023 season with an 82-80 record and missing out on the playoffs for the first time since 2016. Criticized for their lack of huge moves in previous years, the Yankees made a big splash by acquiring star outfielder Juan Soto from the San Diego Padres. Additionally, they added outfielder Alex Verdugo via a trade with the Boston Red Sox and signed former Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Marcus Stroman to a two-year, $37 million contract.
These are some pretty big moves for the Yankees, but they still have some needs to fill across their roster. Even with their starting rotation after the Stroman signing, the Yankees were still linked to a variety of options in free agency and the trade block. But then, they saw the Baltimore Orioles acquire Milwaukee Brewers ace and former Cy Young Award winner Corbin Burnes.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone was asked by reporters about Baltimore's trade acquisition of Burnes. Boone said, "That could be a bit of a problem."
“That was my first reaction," said Boone, h/t The Athletic's Chris Kirschner. "He’s obviously an amazing pitcher going to a great team. We’ll see a lot of him and look forward to competing against the best, though.”
Aaron Boone says Orioles trade for Corbin Burnes 'could be a bit of a problem' for Yankees
This is stating the obvious by Boone here. The Orioles exceeded expectations this past season, not only winning the AL East but also securing the best record in the league with a 101-61 record. While the team didn't pick up a win in the AL Division Series, the future was bright, as they have a young roster with a stacked farm system.
After watching Kyle Gibson and Jack Flaherty leave via free agency, the Orioles decided to get, perhaps, the best-starting pitcher on the trade block in Burnes.
The Yankees were linked to Burnes, but ultimately nothing transpired. But seeing what the Orioles gave up for Burnes, some Yankees fans were a bit upset that they couldn't get a deal done. Specifically, the Orioles gave up their No. 6 prospect, infielder Joey Ortiz, relief pitcher D.L. Hall, and the 34th overall pick in the 2024 MLB Draft to the Brewers for Burnes.
Despite this, Boone expressed confidence in the starting rotation as is, but with the caveat of them being healthy.
“With health, I think we’re going to be really good,” said Boone, h/t The Athletic. “But it’s early February. We got a long way to go. I’m excited about some of the depth we’ve replenished and guys pushing up. I think there are going to be some people that surprise there. I’m really excited about some of the guys, like Carlos (Rodón) and Nestor (Cortes) coming off injury-riddled seasons. I’m excited about the winters those guys are having and where they’re at. Bringing in Marcus — we feel like (the rotation) has a chance to be really good, but we gotta go make it happen.”
The Yankees rotation, on paper, does look strong. After all, they do have the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Gerrit Cole leading the way. The thing is, the health and durability could be an issue. Carlos Rodon missed the first half of last season due to a back injury and a forearm strain. Nestor Cortes' 2023 campaign was cut short due to two left rotator cuff strains. Even Stroman missed time due to a ribcage injury this past season. But Stroman did look strong before the injury.
With the moves the Yankees made this offseason, the pressure is not only on the players but also on Boone. If the team can't win, it's entirely possible the team could opt for the manager to walk as a free agent without re-signing him. One thing is for certain -- the Yankees vs. Orioles games will be must-see television in 2024.