MLB: How the Yankees, Red Sox get to the postseason in 2024

October 27, 2023

At the end of each regular season in Major League Baseball, there are always teams that had playoff, or even World Series, aspirations which failed to reach the postseason. Reasons range from significant injuries, to underwhelming performance, or a combination of many. Then, there are teams who had little chance to begin the season to reach the playoffs.

In this series, we will go division by division. Dissecting each team that missed the playoffs in each division, discussing their 2023 campaigns and answering questions such as: How close are they to the postseason? Who are some key free agents they could add? What does their current payroll situation mean?

(All estimated payrolls are credited to fangraphs and do not include salaries for arbitration eligible players, AAVs for players with guaranteed contracts no longer on the 40-man roster, estimated salaries for players not yet eligible for arbitration and other players with non-guaranteed contracts, or sums of other payments.)

New York Yankees

What happened in 2023?

While the Yankees finished two games above .500, they finished 19 games back of the leading Baltimore Orioles in the American League East. The AL East is un-arguably the best division in baseball, sending three teams to the playoffs and the division-worst Boston Red Sox finishing just six games under .500 and Baltimore sporting a winning percentage good for No. 2 in the majors.

The Yankees have a number of holes, and the rotation is probably the most glaring. Only three pitchers threw over 100 innings in 2023 as a starter for the bombers, and only one of them (Gerrit Cole) held an ERA under four-and-a-half. Major trade acquisition Frankie Montas pitched 0.1 innings in 2023 and Nestor Cortes was only able to start 12 games. It was a questionable decision to trade for Montas as an organization that needed stability in the rotation. Montas has only pitched over 150 innings one out of his previous seven seasons in MLB. Red flag. The rotation as a whole ranked No. 19 in the majors in FIP (4.50) and gave up 1.49 HR/9 (No. 25 in MLB).

Ironically, the offense also ranked below average at No. 19 in wRC+ for the year. Hindered by injuries to Aaron Judge, Anthony Rizzo and Jasson Dominguez didn’t help. But the lineup struggled against right-handed pitching. Against lefties they put up a solid 114 wRC+ but just a 89 wRC+ againt RHP and a team slash line of .222/.298/.384. The team wRC+ against RHP ranks No. 24 in MLB and a 24.2 K% against RHP ranks No. 23 in MLB.

What’s the fix?

The Yankees need to bring in impact left-handed hitting. If Juan Soto truly is available, this is a fit for me. But as of now, that is likely a pipe dream. The Yankees are going to get on base a lot better than a .298 clip against righties moving forward. The power bats in this lineup will better service them if there are runners on in front of them.

While the Yankees haven’t been spending as much as they used to in the past, it seems they’ll have to pony up if they want to compete for the division next year. The pitching market is fruitful, and the Yankees should spend to get at least two rotation arms. The bullpen could use another piece, but held a 3.34 ERA in 2023 as a unit and should be at the bottom of the list of priorities for the Yankees.

Key free agent possibilities:

  • RHP Sonny Gray
  • OF Cody Bellinger
  • 3B Matt Chapman
  • LHP Jordan Montgomery
  • LHP Eduardo Rodriguez

Boston Red Sox

What happened in 2023?

Boston finished last in the AL East with a 78-84 record despite a mid-season push for postseason contention. That glowing pilot light of hope was swiftly blown out by a combined 21-34 record in August and September. The bullpen in those 55 games was atrocious after being decent previously. 5.58 ERA and eight blown saves, ouch. But they aren’t going to take all the blame here.

The rotation for the season ranked No. 22 in team ERA and struggled with yielding the long ball, giving up 1.51 HR/9 on the year (fifth worse in MLB). Kutter Crawford and Chris Sale were the only two of the five starters that pitched over 90 innings with a FIP below four. But even then, their ERA’s ran up above four. With a largely average offense — we’ll get to that in a second — that sort of rotation isn’t going to be anywhere near capable of winning games consistently.

The offense sports a 99 wRC+ as a whole for 2023. To give you an idea, the Arizona Diamondbacks (currently in the World Series) had a 97 wRC+ for the year. Teams can generally survive with an average offense if the pitching is above average. They struck out a reasonable amount (22%) and ranked No. 13 in team OBP. They could use an upgrade in power, as they carried a team .166 ISO.

What’s the fix?

This is an offense that could use a couple small holes plugged, but doesn’t need a major overhaul. Pitching, pitching, pitching. Luckily for both teams in this article, there is plenty of it available this off-season, particularly arms with a proven track record.

Key free agent possibilities:

  • RHP Aaron Nola
  • RHP Lucas Giolito
  • RHP Yoshinobu Yamamoto
  • LHP Josh Hader
  • OF Cody Bellinger

Read up on teams that missed the playoffs in the AL West here.

Read up on teams that missed the playoffs in the NL West here.


Casey Bellon

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