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Yankees’ five biggest 2023-24 offseason storylines to watch

Gerrit Cole and Aaron Boone
Gerrit Cole and Aaron Boone / USA TODAY Sports/SNY treated image

The 2023 season saw the Yankees miss the postseason for the first time since 2016, and there are a lot of questions that need to be answered this offseason.

What went wrong? Who is to blame? And how does the front office fix it for 2024?

Those are just a few questions that will tell the story of the offseason.

Managing partner Hal Steinbrenner and the front office will try and figure out what the team needs and what to prioritize. And while they do, fans will want to keep an eye on these five storylines that can affect the Yankees in 2024 and beyond...

The results of Yankees' 'audit' and fates of Aaron Boone and Brian Cashman

SNY's Andy Martino reported on Oct. 2 that Boone is expected to return.

However, we will have to see whether Steinbrenner gives both Boone and Cashman the vote of confidence. Cashman said prior to the end of the regular season that everyone’s job will be evaluated, and that includes his.

Hal gave Cashman a contract extension before the start of the 2023 season, so it’s unlikely that the GM will be given the boot. But what about Boone? He’s entering the final year of his contract and Aaron Judge clearly wants him back.

Perhaps after this so-called audit is complete, we'll have a better picture of how Hal and the Yankees view their organization and who is making the calls.

How committed will Yankees be to youngsters?

Perhaps the biggest surprise out of spring training this season was the team naming Anthony Volpe their starting shortstop.

Volpe definitely earned it out of spring training and showed his promise this season, hitting 21 home runs and driving in 60 runs. While his batting average (.209) and OBP (.283) need to improve, he was a highlight in an otherwise bleak season.

So, will the Yanks continue to lean on other youngsters in 2024? They called up Oswald Peraza, Austin Wells, Jasson Dominguez and Everson Pereira in September and gave them a run until the end of the regular season, and they all performed admirably.

Peraza showed why he may be the best glove they have in the infield, while Wells and Dominguez proved they can hit for power against major league pitching. While Pereira didn't get to shine as much, he did show glimpses and could be a depth piece for the team.

What we'll want to see this offseason is whether the front office is willing to go on record with who will be on the Opening Day roster. Knowing how the Yanks operate, they won't commit, but will allow all the youngsters to compete for spots in the spring. 

Any deals the front office makes will give everyone an idea who will be on the Opening Day roster, but if there are notable holes like this past spring we may see the youngsters have a real shot at cracking the team.

Where will the money go?

If you listen to New York sports radio, you'd think Steinbrenner doesn't spend money to put out a competitive team each season. The Yankees continue to have one of the highest payrolls in baseball and in 2023 they were the second highest, behind only the Mets.

While questions about how the money is being spent are valid, monitoring how much Hal will spend this offseason will be interesting.

Some high-profile names like Frankie Montas and Luis Severino are off the books, as well as some players who the team may or may not tender, so where will the money be spent? There are plenty of holes in this Yankees roster, especially in the outfield.

There's also an influx of young talent in the starting rotation (Clarke Schmidt, Michael King) and in the infield (Volpe, Peraza, Wells) who are on team-friendly deals and could potentially be everyday players.

The Yankees could continue to ride the youngsters while filling out the roster with veterans from free agency. 

What to do with Gleyber Torres

Torres feels like a player without a home. Many believed, myself included, that he would have been traded at the deadline even if the team was playing better. While there were reports of teams asking for the infielder, the Yanks decided to retain the 26-year-old. We don't blame the Yankees for holding on to Torres.

The Venezuela native led the team with a .273 batting average and was the team's most consistent hitter. And while his defense could be maddening at times, he was solid, stayed healthy, and built a great rapport with Volpe.

Torres enters 2024 in the final year of arbitration eligibility before he's a free agent. Do the Bombers sign Torres long-term? Do they ride out his final year? Volpe is entrenched in the infield, and Peraza is a potential successor, which could mean the front office may be looking to move him this offseason.

What the Yankees do with Gleyber will be one of the biggest stories going into this offseason.

What's the deal with Gerrit Cole's opt out?

Cole is likely going to win the AL Cy Young award but not many fans know that he has an opt-out in his contract after the 2024 season, and whether he will or will not exercise that option will be a storyline throughout the offseason and the regular season.

That’s unless Cole makes it clear what his intentions are.

Cole's opt-out is complex. When SNY's Andy Martino asked Cole about it, he declined to comment. However, with his high level of play, Cole (33) could easily decide to opt out and pick up potentially one more lucrative deal.

If Cole exercise his opt-out, the Yankees could void it by adding a 10th year at $36 million, which would be the pitcher's age-38 season.

So the decision is two-fold: will Cole opt out and will the Yankees give Cole the guaranteed 10th year?