If healthy, Masahiro Tanaka can contend for the American League Cy Young Award.
If healthy, Masahiro Tanaka can contend for the American League Cy Young Award. (Kathy Willens, Associated Press)

Record in 2014: 84-78 (second place, 12 games back)

Key additions: Shortstop Didi Gregorius, acquired in a trade from the Arizona Diamondbacks, hit .226 with a .653 OPS in 80 games last season. Reliever Andrew Miller had a 2.02 ERA with the Orioles and Boston Red Sox last year and will bolster an already strong back end of the bullpen. New starter Nathan Eovaldi, formerly of the Miami Marlins, had a 4.37 ERA in 33 starts in 2014 after a fast start to the season.

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Key losses: Shortstop Derek Jeter hit .256/.304/.313 with four home runs in his final season. Right-hander Hiroki Kuroda went 38-33 with a 3.44 ERA in three seasons for New York before returning to pitch in Japan. David Robertson, a longtime reliable reliever, had a 3.08 ERA with 39 saves in his first season as closer but signed with the Chicago White Sox in the offseason.

X-factor: Masahiro Tanaka

In a pitching rotation of high-upside injury risks, Tanaka's success will go furthest in dictating how the first year of the post-Jeter era goes in the Bronx. The Japanese star confounded big-league hitters in his debut, striking out 127 in 1152/3 innings in his first 16 starts before an elbow injury limited him to four starts after July 1. If Tanaka is healthy, he'll contend for the American League Cy Young Award. The rest of the rotation — including Michael Pineda, C.C. Sabathia and Eovaldi — needs to follow suit for the Yankees to contend. But it starts with Tanaka.

Outlook: The Yankees have far more position players who are past their prime than those who are in it, meaning this could be a long season. Even with an improved pitching staff, the Yankees will have to claw just to get to .500. That might put manager Joe Girardi on the hot seat.

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