HOUSTON -- It is the end for the 2017 New York Yankees after Saturday's 4-0 loss to the Houston Astros, but it really is more of a beginning. While the Baby Bombers fell a few games short of their goal, it is hard to imagine they won't be back next October -- and maybe for the next decade or so.
AL MVP candidate Aaron Judge and the Yankees arrived in 2017 as bona fide championship contenders a year or two earlier than expected. They lost Game 7 of the American League Championship Series to the Astros -- home-field advantage was too much to overcome this time -- but the Yankees will be better off for the experience.
These games will speed up the process. And just as important, the Yankees possess a farm system that is nearly as deep as any in baseball, and they will soon have money to spend. This one still hurts because the people in charge of the Yankees, starting with general manager Brian Cashman, know that no matter the roster you build, a lot goes into winning a title.
That is why it might be premature to talk about a dynasty, but that is what the Yankees might be building. Like New York's 1995 ALDS Game 5 loss in Seattle that predated the last Yankees dynasty, this new group might look back at 2017 as its springboard.
The Yankees already have a new Core Four. In Judge, Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird and Luis Severino, the Yankees have a quartet of 25-and-under talent. Shortstop Didi Gregorius is 27. And the minor leagues are filled with potential.
At third base, Chase Headley will be in the final year of his contract next season, while Todd Frazier is now a free agent. At second base, Starlin Castro was an All-Star this season, but it is unclear if he will be the man in that position for the long term.
In 20-year-old Gleyber Torres, the Yankees have their next second or third baseman. Torres, whose left elbow is better after Tommy John surgery, is considered one of the best prospects in baseball.
In the outfield, the Yankees have the exciting Clint Frazier waiting to take a starting job. At 23, Frazier showed he can compete at the big league level. The Yankees have Brett Gardner back for 2018 and a team option on his contract for 2019. Frazier could be the fourth outfielder next year, with the disappointing $153 million man, Jacoby Ellsbury, jettisoned elsewhere.
Deeper in the system, there is a kid named Estevan Florial who is one of the most exciting players in the minors. Born in Haiti, Florial turns 20 in November.
On the minor league-pitching side, the Yankees have starters in 23-year-old Chance Adams, who might make the jump next year, and 21-year-old Justus Sheffield, who also could be up soon. We could go on.
Meanwhile, the Yankees will be back because they'll be able to complement their youthful base with big-money free agents or by shopping at the top of the trade market. With Alex Rodriguez's and CC Sabathia's money coming off the books, the Yankees will have money to spend. It is unclear whether Masahiro Tanaka will opt out. The Yankees will want to keep him, but not at any cost if he tests the market.
The Yankees probably won't be big spenders this offseason. They could be big players in getting the most intriguing player available this offseason: two-way, pitcher and hitter Shohei Otani. Otani might not cost as much because of the new rules.
Besides, they will lay low and avoid the luxury tax, which currently costs them 50 cents on the dollar. But expect them to be players in the free-agent market after the 2018 season. If they sign someone such as Bryce Harper for $400 million then, it will cost the Yankees the straight $400 million -- not $600 million, as it would now because of the luxury tax.
They will be able to sign who they want to, but owner Hal Steinbrenner has been moving away from such deals. With the star power of Judge and the likability of this current group, Steinbrenner might not have to sign Harper. He can save his nickels and his millions for pitching. That is where the Yankees might eventually invest.
So the end came for the 2017 Yankees, but it just might be the beginning. It is very possible the Yankees are on the eve of their next dynasty.