Damned if they do and damned it they don’t. That’s life for those damn Yankees. This offseason, the Yankees have been very quiet. The Bombers have mainly been shoring up their own players (CC Sabathia) and bringing back some of the retreads who worked out well last season (Freddy Garcia, Andruw Jones). For life in Yankeeland, even doing nothing is news; however, not making any big free-agent signings or prospect-laden trades is just what the Yankees should be doing this offseason.
As everyone not living under a rock knows, the Yankees certainly could use some starting pitching. But the big names that were out there actually weren’t all that big. C.J. Wilson was a solid pitcher for the Rangers last year, even if his postseason performance was a tad pathetic, but the money he warranted was way beyond his talent level. Yu Darvish is intriguing and, I admit, I will make sure to see him pitch when Texas plays here in Seattle, but I don’t care what kind of pitching genius Nolan Ryan is, between the posting fee and the eventual big contract, it is not worth throwing that kind of money at a major-league unknown.
Starting pitching is going for a premium these days, and the deals being made include multiple top-level prospects. Do fans really want Brian Cashman to trade off the likes of Dellin Betances and Jesus Montero for Gio Gonzalez and Mat Latos? These are two guys who pitch in pitcher-friendly parks and, as we know, Yankee Stadium and its short porch is no picnic for even the best hurlers.
It makes sense for the Yankees to refrain from making any splashy moves and see what their prospects can do in the big leagues. Most importantly, next season’s free agent class has some real marquee pitching names: Phillies lefty Cole Hamels and Giants righty Matt Cain. These are guys worth throwing money at. These are pitchers who are actual difference makers in a rotation.
New York also needs to make sure there will be enough cash left to keep All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano who can become a free agent in 2013. (And since Cano hired the infamous Scott Boras as his agent, you can bet he’s hoping for a monster payday.)
Whether or not you want to believe it, the Yankees are serious about reducing payroll. The rumor is they want to get that number down to $189 million by 2014 because baseball’s new collective bargaining agreement imposes increased penalties for going over the luxury tax threshold. According to the New York Post’s Joel Sherman: “If they are at $189 million or less for the three seasons from 2014-16, they not only avoid paying one cent in luxury tax, which would rise to 50 percent for them as repeat offenders, but they also would get roughly $40 million in savings via the to-be-implemented market disqualification revenue sharing program.”
By 2014, the contracts of A.J. Burnett (thank God), Mariano Rivera (hard to imagine him gone), Rafael Soriano and Nick Swisher all come off the books. That’s a lot of money, but the Yankees will still have $70.5 million tied up on Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Sabathia. This means they’re going to have to get creative again this season.
Even so, it’s still more than likely the Yankees will not only make it to the postseason yet again, but also win their division. And if you’re looking ahead to who will win next offseason’s buzz-worthy signings, I’d put my money on the Bombers.