Yankees confident in club as camp nears

Goal heading into the season is to make deep postseason run

Yankees confident in club as camp nears

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Yankees were able to keep their turnstiles open for postseason play last October, the first time they'd done so since 2012, though that experience lasted just nine innings. Among the lessons that manager Joe Girardi learned from experiencing that do-or-die American League Wild Card Game?

"Don't get in it," Girardi quipped.

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Having approached the offseason with the objective of building a younger and more flexible roster, the Yankees opted out of the free-agent class and instead focused on the trade market, marking the first time the Yanks have abstained from free agency since it was implemented in the 1970s.

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With general manager Brian Cashman triggering moves for closer Aroldis Chapman, infielder Starlin Castro and outfielder Aaron Hicks, the Yankees see those players joining last year's trade chips like infielder Didi Gregorius and starter Nathan Eovaldi to help the club continue their transition away from relying upon older veterans.

Over the next two seasons, the Yankees will see their commitments to stars like Carlos Beltran, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia tick down, but they will count heavily on all of those players for the purposes of chasing an AL East title -- and more -- in 2016.

"My mindset is to win the World Series," Girardi said. "That's what you go to work for in the winter, in Spring Training and during the season. Our goal is to get back there as soon as we can. That's what we're trying to do."

Chapman to close for Yankees

Rodriguez and Teixeira in particular are a major part of the equation. The slugging duo combined for 64 home runs last season, with Rodriguez surpassing expectations as he returned from a season-long drug suspension and Teixeira standing among the team's best performers until he sustained a season-ending injury in August.

The Yankees will also look to Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner to turn in complete, healthy seasons as table-setters atop an order that scored 764 runs last year, second only to the Blue Jays' wrecking crew (891).

They'll need those runs to support a rotation that carries several injury concerns, as Masahiro Tanaka acknowledged last week that he "can't really say" if he will be ready to start on Opening Day following surgery to remove a bone spur from his pitching elbow.

Tanaka's comeback continues

If the Yankees can carry leads through six innings, they will feel good about their chances thanks to a power bullpen of Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Chapman. That trio, perhaps more than anything else, offers hope that the Yankees will keep their season going into late October.

"I think our guys are capable of getting there," Girardi said. "Last year we got into the one-game playoff and that's not what we want. That's very difficult."

Pitchers and catchers report
Thursday

First workout for pitchers and catchers
Friday

Full squad reports
Feb. 24

First full-squad workout
Feb. 25

First Spring Training game
Home vs. Tigers, March 2, 1:05 p.m. ET

Opening Day
Home vs. Astros, April 4, 1:05 p.m. ET

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.