MLBPipeline.com is breaking down how each of the postseason teams was built, looking at the composition of their projected Division Series rosters.
The Yankees have gone four years without winning a postseason game, their longest dry spell since 1982-94. Back then, their farm system sparked a turnaround.
Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera and Bernie Williams arrived in New York in the mid-1990s, and the club used its surplus of talent to trade for Tino Martinez and plug other holes that arose. The revitalized Yankees won four World Series in five years and reached the postseason in 13 consecutive seasons.
History looks like it's beginning to repeat itself in the Bronx. New York is headed back to the postseason after missing out in three of the last four years, thanks in large part to its homegrown talent. The Yankees signed and developed four of their five 2017 All-Stars, most notably rookie sensation Aaron Judge.
They also used their prospect depth to swing a pair of significant trades in July, and they're still loaded at every level of the Minor Leagues. Add in New York's financial might -- which will get mightier when its youngsters enable it to reset its luxury tax rate in 2018 -- and the franchise could be poised for another run of championships.
General manager Brian Cashman, who joined the organization as an intern in 1986, says the Yankees haven't had this much young talent since the days of Jeter and Co.
"We were stacked back then," Cashman said. "[Amateur scouting director] Damon Oppenheimer, [international scouting director] Donny Rowland and [pro scouting director] Kevin Reese have gotten us to that point again. We hope it will be like the 1990s. We feel like we have a chance to be feared again."
Judge (the second of three Yankees first-round picks in 2013) and Dominican signees Sanchez ($3 million in 2009) and Severino ($225,000 in 2011) all made the All-Star Game in their first full big league seasons. But unlike Sanchez, who tied a record by homering 20 times in his first 51 games, Judge and Severino needed time to get established. Judge struck out 42 times in 95 plate appearances in his first taste of New York last year, while Severino followed a strong final two months of 2015 with a 5.83 ERA in 2016.
Despite their struggles, the Yankees didn't lose faith in them. Though Cashman admits he didn't expect Judge to set the rookie home run record or Severino to emerge as a Cy Young Award candidate in 2017, the organization liked their upsides enough to resist the temptation to deal them for more proven talent.
"In Judge's case and Sevvy's case, we held on to them and they went and got their sea legs under them," Cashman said. "We got a lot of interest in trades for them, but we had a lot of good believe people who believed in them. That's where patience came in, to hold on to them for the future rather than use them to fix things in the present."
Besides the young stars, several other homegrown players will hold key roles for New York in the postseason. Gardner, considered a speedy, but light-hitting outfielder when signed as a third-rounder in 2005, set a career high for homers this year while manning the leadoff spot. Bird, who signed for a well over-slot $1.1 million as a fifth-rounder in 2011, adds more power to the lineup.
As for the pitchers, 2006 eighth-rounder Betances earned his fourth straight All-Star honor this summer. Tanaka, who cost $175 million in posting fees and contractual guarantees when acquired from Japan's Rakuten Golden Eagles three years ago, will pitch in the postseason rotation. Montgomery, a savvy fourth-round pick in 2014, will serve as a swingman after a solid rookie season as the No. 5 starter.
A year ago, the Yankees found themselves in the rare position of selling rather than buying. They fortified their system with elite prospects and helped influence the eventual World Series matchup by shipping Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs and Andrew Miller to the Indians. This summer, New York brought in four veterans via trades.
The Yankees used first-rounders Blake Rutherford (2016) and Ian Clarkin (2013) as the keys to a four-player package that landed Frazier, Kahnle and Robertson from the White Sox on July 19. Six days later, they parted with blue-chip prospects Dustin Fowler, James Kaprielian and Jorge Mateo to acquire Gray from the Athletics. Not only did Gray bolster the 2017 roster, but he also joins Severino, Tanaka and Montgomery to give New York a fourth 28-and-under starter under team control through at least 2019.
Cashman said it's never easy to part with high-ceiling prospects, even with a deep farm system.
"We do believe in the ceilings of the players we lost." Cashman said. "With the Rule 5 Draft, you saw what happened last year when we had four players picked and lost Luis Torrens. It forces you to be proactive if your team declares itself like it did this summer. If forces you to make tough decisions because you develop emotional attachments to every one of them."
Cashman also has made a number of smaller moves for not-yet-established players that have paid off handsomely.
Gregorius, Jeter's replacement, came from the D-backs and cost only Shane Greene in a three-team deal in December 2014. Hicks, who has had the best year of his career despite battling oblique injuries, was picked up from the Twins for J.R. Murphy in November 2015. The next month, bullpen weapon Green was part of the return form the Tigers for Justin Wilson.
These aren't George Steinbrenner's Yankees, as this edition has fewer free-agent signees and has gotten less production from them than most of the clubs in the postseason field. Sabathia (nine years, $211 million), Ellsbury (seven years, $153 million) and Chapman (five years, $86 million) all signed megacontracts and have contributed, but only Sabathia would rank among the 10 most valuable players on the club this season.
Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.