Yankees Not in a Giving Mood this Offseason

This Christmas, there will be no high-priced free agents under the tree for the New York Yankees. Over the past decade the Yankees have handed out over a billion dollars in free agent money. So far in the 2015 offseason they have spent $0. It is almost incomprehensible to think that the Yankees, who for years seemed to just print money, have currently been outspent by teams like the Minnesota Twins, Oakland A’s, and Cleveland Indians. As it stands right now the only star they have acquired is Starlin Castro, and he came via trade. The list of giant contracts handed out over the past ten years goes on and on — Alex Rodriguez, Jason Giambi, CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Roger Clemens, Jacoby Ellsbury, Johnny Damon, Brian McCann, and Mark Teixeira. Not this year. The years of frivolous spending have finally caught up to the Yankees.

Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner has stated for quite a while now his desires to move below the salary tax threshold of $189 million. Judging by last years’ payroll of $241 million payroll and subsequent $26 million tax, it doesn’t appear that GM Brian Cashman will have the authority to sign any of the remaining big-name players. It is unclear what type of budget Cashman has been given to work with for 2016, but it has been made known they will not be shelling out big bucks to players over the age of 30.

Joe Girardi deserves immense credit for guiding an aging and injury-depleted team to a Wild Card berth in 2015. He faces an even more uphill climb this year as the team is a year older, with question marks in big supply.  Masahiro Tanaka, Sabathia, Nathan Eovaldi and Michael Pineda all missed significant time with injuries last year. Those are four of the projected starting five pitchers who have varying degrees of injury concern heading into 2016. The strength of the team looks to be the back end of the bullpen with Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances, but will the Yankees have enough leads to turn over to their lights out eighth and ninth inning guys?

It’s clear the Yankees need to add at least one more starting pitcher to the staff, but Cashman sat idle and watched David Price, Zack Greinke and Johnny Cueto all sign with other teams. Even the likes of Jordan Zimmerman, Jeff Samardzija, and John Lackey proved too rich for the now thrifty Yankees. In years past, a player like Jason Heyward, would have been all but assured to suit up in pinstripes for years to come. The “evil empire” has been turned on it’s axis.

To be fair, the Yankees did have solid production last year from young players such as Gregory Bird, Luis Severino and Didi Gregorius, albeit in relatively limited action for the first two. In 2016 each of these players will be counted on to contribute heavily. Alex Rodriguez had a huge bounce-back season, but his age and health will once again be major question marks going into the season.  Mix in the age and injuries of Teixeira, Carlos Beltran and Sabathia and they Yankees could potentially have almost as much money on the disabled list than on their active roster.

While this offseason is shaping up to be relatively quiet, the Yankees will not be quiet for long. After the 2016 season the contracts of Sabathia ($25 million, with a $5 million buyout), Teixeira ($23.1 million) and Beltran ($15 million) will all come off the books. This should put the Yankees in position to be players in the free-agent market once again.  However the days of the free-wheeling, lavish spending for the once mighty New York Yankees appear to be a fleeting memory.

5 Responses

  1. Michael Bradbury

    And when they spend $200M in a year you’ll be crowing again…………
    Not sure why everyone seems to think our rotation is so shaky because guys have been hurt before. One injury doens’t a career make. Pineda is back from VERY major reconstruction and had moments of dominance in his first season back. There’s no reaoson to expect less than a progression as he gets all the strength back. The kids young and in his prime. They heal differently than a 35 y/o.
    Tanaka made it through a season and is a year removed from his injury. Again, no reason to expect him to be anythign less than stronger and better than he was last year.
    Evoldi went from a nice #5 starter ‘maybe’ to our BEST pitcher late in the season…… Another young guy getting better…………………..

    CC was actually effective late in the season with the knee brace. He’s seeming to adapt to his new style much better, yet was also hitting the MID NINTIES on his fastball late in the season. He can NOW be a very effective 4 or 5 starter for us IMO.
    Add in our NEW (BEST?) pitcher in the Kid (Luis) and we have FOUR guys THAT COULD BE OUR #1 starter next year!!!!!! And COULD be a DOMINATING pitching staff if healthy.
    It’s our postition players that are (mostly) getting old and way overpaid. Can’t fix that this year. They played a LOT of kids last year that did VERY well for the most part. The farm system went from bottom of the barrel to top 10 (!) in some minor league system ratings.
    This is process and they seem to have a very well thought out plan in place that almost ANY cognizant GM type would agree with.
    SOME of those high dollar FA’s will help there teams be better next year.
    Almost ALL of them will be albatross contracts weighing them down in the future.
    Just like our big dogs $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

  2. Michael Bradbury

    PS – I am THRILLED that the Yanks “get it” that paying top dollar for players over 30 is just a losing proposition almost every single time unless you have a very tiny window of opportunity to win a series. For a team like the Yanks that expect to contend every year it is NOT the best setup………….. as George proved repeatadely even when he COULD outspend every team by a wide margin.
    I didn’t intend to sound argumentative, that’s just “me”. ;)

    • fbluhm

      Keep in mind George won seven World series spending all that money. The Royals won the WS this year for the first time in how many years? Average age of the starters was close to 30. Very few players under 25.

  3. Michael Bradbury

    Very few decent Yank discussions……….. LOL
    Letting Cano go was the first sign they “got it” and what a fabulous decision that turned out to be! Not overpaying guys since then while making some savvy low dollar moves to get younger is nothing but smart. Build the foundation from within, controlling costs. Then have the $$ to sign the BIG fish that every champion needs.
    These couple of frustrating(?? not to me) years will soon be replaced by a solid blueprint that will have us in the playoffs every year for the next decade. JMO ;)

  4. fbluhm

    Sure, they’ll have plenty of money in the future, but who says Hal is going to spend it? And who says they’ll have much, if anything, to chose from; quality free agents will be slim pickings in the years to come. This was the year the best players were available. It’s much harder now to build that so-called solid foundation with young, in-grown, players than it used to be. If, in the next couple of years, Bird, Severino and Gregorious turn out to be the players everyone hopes they will be, come contract time, other teams will go after them, and will be willing to spend the money that Hal won’t to keep them. The big contracts may have cost the Yankees over the years, but get rid of most of them and see how many championships the Yankees would have won. George wanted to win every year; not wait till the kids grew up (what young kids they had) and win one every 4-5 years or more. He did it with seasoned players who knew how to win.


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