It would be easy to take one look at what the New York Yankees are doing to get ready for 2013 and reach the conclusion that it’s not much. The gaping holes they went into this year’s winter meetings with are still there and it seems that they are the only team not doing anything at the moment. To anyone wondering if that’s really the case with the Yankees, I’d propose this question to them …
Have any of you taken a look at this free agent market lately?
It’s not exactly a who’s who of game-changers out there. I look up and I see the Boston Red Sox opening their wallet for Shane Victorino and Mike Napoli at three years, $39 million apiece. I’m not knocking either player, however that’s big-time money for role players. It makes one wonder just what the Red Sox have in mind for the future of their team that’s coming off a miserable season and has yet to address their starting pitching. The Yankees need role players, however not at the price the market has valued this year’s free agent class.
I understand that an offseason without a major free agent move by the Yankees just doesn’t add up for the fans, it doesn’t exactly help the media or sports agents either. We’ve all grown accustomed to the big spenders on the block being the team that resides in the Bronx; however this year things are a little different because the big spenders are apparently on a budget. The Yankees are determined to reduce payroll to get beneath the $189 million luxury tax threshold for 2014 and it’s made for slim-pickings this winter as far as free agents at an affordable price are concerned.
If getting under $189 million for 2014 is what the Yankees need to do to get back some of the financial freedom they are accustomed to having then they’ve earned the right to try and do that. For over a decade now, this team has consistently gone the extra mile to put a winning product on the field and at whatever cost. The important thing to remember is that at the end of the day the Yankees are still a business, they are arguably one of the most successful brands in professional sports.
At some point every successful business needs to reset their spending budget, it’s just smart business. The Yankees happen to be in this position right now after years and years of free-spending on big-money players. It makes for a more challenging job for general manager Brian Cashman, however the ownership has made it a necessity.
The Yankees didn’t re-sign Eric Chavez for the one-year $3 million he received from Arizona and they didn’t give Jeff Keppinger three years and $12 million either. Well, Chavez for the most part was solid in his limited role with the Yankees, however he’s also injury prone and as for Keppinger, the Yankees were not about to commit that many years to him. Reportedly they are currently waiting to see if infielder Kevin Youkilis accepts their one-year, $12 million offer to play third base while Alex Rodriguez recovers from surgery on his left hip.
Cashman believes that there is still time to make the right moves for the 2013 Yankees. He didn’t feel the urge to back up the brinks truck for the list of free agents that were talked about at the Winter Meetings and I can’t blame him one bit. He’s showing patience at a time where it’s most important for the Yankees and their long-term outlook.
That doesn’t change the fact that decisions still have to made at third base, right field and at catcher. Moves can still be made through trades or in January with a short-term signing. One thing is for sure though and that’s that the Yankees are not about to break the bank to fill those holes, at least not with this current crop of available players.