Time for the Yankees to ‘Yankee-Up’ and Sign Heyward

The Boston Red Sox have emphatically announced their intentions to contend for a division and World Series title again in 2016. David Price is signed, Craig Kimbrel has been acquired, and Chris Davis has been discussed. While the Red Sox set about “winning” the offseason for the second straight year, the New York Yankees have sat on their hands and discussed the need to get their payroll under $190 million.

Excuse me?

Are these the same New York Yankees I grew up watching run roughshod over the rest of the league every winter?

No, they are not. George Steinbrenner is no longer calling the shots. Son Hal is running the show in the Bronx after his father’s death, and is far less reactionary when making free-agent signings. The Yankees passed on Jordan Zimmermann even though he signed for a relatively low (in this market) sum of $22 million per season. All-Star outfielder Brett Gardner is on the block, as is All-Star closer Andrew Miller. The Yankees have preached a need to get younger while developing prospects into stars. Unfortunately, the league’s winningest franchise is not in position to sit on its hands for a few years while waiting for the youngsters to develop.

Not when you’re charging over $500 for good seats in an already sparsely-populated ballpark.

The time has come for the Yankees to “Yankee-Up” and sign Jason Heyward. Passing on Zimmermann could turn into a big mistake, especially as the Red Sox address their biggest hole. Letting Heyward, a 26-year-old, get away would be inexcusable for the Yankees. This is the rare chance for the Yankees to put their money to work to sign a young All-Star, not an aging, past-his-prime All-Star.

Looking back on the mini-dynasty of the Yankees between 1996 and 2001, there were very few times the Yankees had the best, most powerful lineup in the league. Their lineup slowly bludgeoned you to death with high batting averages and high on-base percentages. Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Paul O’Neill, Jorge Posada, Scott Brosius, Tino Martinez — those were the players upon whose backs the championship years were built. Jeter, Posada, and Williams were homegrown stars. O’Neill and Brosius were savvy pickups.

The Yankees began going off the rails when they sunk a quarter of a billion dollars into Alex Rodriguez and then commenced handing out massive contracts to players like Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Sabathia. The Boss got impatient and emotional and tried to sign everyone. The Yankees “Yankee’d-Up” far too frequently for their own good.

The Yankees were most likely wise to concede David Price to the Red Sox. They cannot afford to let Jason Heyward stay with the St. Louis Cardinals or sign with the Los Angeles Angels, Chicago Cubs, or anyone else for that matter. He is the type of player the Yankees never would have missed out on in the past. With Heyward, the Yankees can continue waiting for a few prospects to develop while still adding a star through free agency. Carlos Beltran comes off the books after this season, as does Mark Teixeira. Rodriguez and CC Sabathia will follow close behind. There will be plenty of money being freed up in the coming years, but no under-30 stars to spend it on (unless the Yankees want to put all their money in the Bryce Harper or Mike Trout basket — which is not unlikely).

Heyward may not be a true, build-your-team-around-him superstar, but neither were players like Williams, O’Neill, Martinez, or Posada. At the risk of insulting every Jeter worshiper out there, neither was The Captain.The historic 1998 squad that won 114 games did not have a single player hit more than 30 home runs.

When the Yankees were at their best, their players worked together as a team. Heyward brings this type of quality to the clubhouse. He sacrificed power for contact when leading off in St. Louis, he will hit close to .300, draw walks, steal bases, and should begin putting 30 balls over the short porches in the American League East with ease. This is the type of player the Yankees need to be rebuilding their next “Core 4” around. It’s going to be expensive, and it’s going to seem like a lot of money on paper, but these are the New York Yankees we’re talking about. Heyward will look mighty good playing outfield with Gregory Bird at first base, Didi Gregorious at shortstop, Gary Sanchez behind the dish, and Rob Refsnyder at second base. He is the type of player, a Jeter-esque, lead-by-example type, who can help mold the next generation of great Yankees.

Time to “Yankee-Up,” Hal.

3 Responses

  1. Michael

    No, I want the Yankees to stay the course. Bring up the young, wait for the huge contracts to come off the books. Get Bryce Harper in 2019. The Yankees can make creative trades whether it involves Brett Gardner, Ivan Nova, or getting a new second basemen. Just think about the future with Luis Serverino, Greg Bird, Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, Dellin Betances, and hopefully Rob Refsnyder, Andrew Miller………………..Bryce Harper.

    Jacoby Ellsbery CF
    Greg Bird 1B
    Aaron Judge LF or RF
    Bryce Harper LF of RF
    Gary Sanchez C
    Brain McCain DH
    Rob Refsynder SB
    Didi or Jorge Mateo SS
    Chase Headley or someone else 3B

  2. Norm Stansfield

    The Yankees should and will cut payroll next year, not expand it even more. They’re already being robbed by the MLB with the luxury tax, as it is.

    Nothing’s easier than demanding that they keep spending on free agents. And nothing’s more counter-productive, especially when it’s on players they don’t actually need. They DO NOT need Heyward. They have three better than average outfielders already, and a couple of very good backup outfielders.

    Same with starting pitchers: they already have seven established starting pitchers, and several more good prospects in the minors… another area they don’t need to be spending money on, and allowing themselves to be taxed by the MLB at a 50% rate for it.

    I doubt they can get below $190 mill. (not without trading away players they need, or by Tex agreeing to a trade), but they can cut about $15 mill. (the money they wasted on Drew, Jones and Capuano last year). Worst case scenario, they should spend that $15 mill. on a reliever, to further sure up their bullpen.

  3. Michael Bradbury

    Disagree. While it is close, there are bigger fish swimming after 2016 when we’ve actually had those monster contracts coming off the books.
    “Settle” for him now and maybe can’t afford a Harper down the road. Judge is a protypical right fielder for the next decade if he continues to improve, and I liked what i saw of Heathcott before he go hurt. If they go with Refsnyer/Ackley at 2nd and they both hit, Ackley could see time in the outfield too.
    We are solid, if brittle, in the outfield for another year. Continue to work on the pitching holes as primary concern, build the system and then go get the BIG fish or two when they come available. ;)


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