The Yankees are in an enviable position as this offseason begins. They could line up the current roster and be projected for 90-plus wins.
Of course, they are looking to improve, whether it is simply retaining Brett Gardner or going to the top of the market for Gerrit Cole. The desperation comes from being championship-free since 2009 rather than from having huge holes to fill.
Nevertheless, even without overt shortcomings, part of the Yankees’ offseason is based on how they are internally answering:
1. Did James Paxton find comfort and excellence in New York? Because the guy who made those final 11 starts was an ace: 2.51 ERA/.177 batting average against. That .177 average from Aug. 1 on was fifth in the majors, between NL Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom (.172) and AL Cy winner Justin Verlander (.179).
Yeah, the more the merrier, and if money is no object, then add Cole to Paxton. But my guess is money does matter to Hal Steinbrenner, and, if so, the Yankees need Paxton to be a No. 1 and have a healthy Luis Severino as his co-pilot. In fact, if the Yankees believe that the real Paxton showed up Aug. 1 — when he got control of fastballs up, breaking balls down and…