KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A forgettable Yankees season came to an end on Sunday afternoon with a 5-2 loss to the Royals at Kauffman Stadium.
It launched the club, which finished 82-80 and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2016, into an offseason that is likely to be filled with changes, including some potentially big ones.
But those may take their time to reveal themselves as general manager Brian Cashman and managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner — as well as the independent company the owner plans to bring in to evaluate every sector of the club — begin to sift through the wreckage.
Aaron Boone, who just finished his sixth year as manager and has one year left on his contract, said not being in the postseason isn’t something he or the team plans on getting used to.
“We need to be playing this time of year. That’s the first thing,” he said. “Take a little bit of solace in how these guys continued to show up, continued to prepare, continued to compete all the way to the end and played well down the stretch when it wasn’t necessarily an easy thing to do.”
The Yankees, though eliminated from postseason contention on Sept. 24, were more or less out of it by the end of August. They began a youth movement that included bringing up Everson Peirera and Oswald Peraza and then, on Sept. 1, Jasson Dominguez and Austin Wells. They played well overall down the stretch, going 20-12 since Aug. 28.
On Sunday, the Yankees were shut down by Zack Greinke (2-15, 5.06), who allowed one run and four hits in five innings for the Royals (56-106) in recording the 225th victory of his 20-year career. Michael King, who earned his way into strong consideration for a rotation spot next season with his performance since being stretched out in mid-August (a 1.05 ERA in his previous seven starts), allowed four runs and eight hits in four innings.
Austin Wells, who went 11-for-31 (.355) in his last eight games, had three hits. Isiah Kiner-Falefa had a two-run single.
“I’m appreciative of that,” Boone said of the team’s play the final month. “But we know we need to be playing this time of year, and that reality and disappointment certainly is upon us.”
Boone on Wakefield
Sunday brought the news that longtime knuckleball pitcher Tim Wakefield, with whom Boone is forever linked after hitting a walk-off homer against Boston to win Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS, died at the age of 57.
“My heart goes out to their family,” Boone said. “I know his wife is dealing with cancer herself and I know he’s got children. Kind of brokenhearted over that and just praying for the family. Thoughts to the Red Sox organization but around baseball, where Tim was beloved. Obviously a sad day.”