If the Yankees let the Mets punk them on a revival like Corey Kluber, then come on now.
The Yankees and Corey Kluber were such an inevitable match this offseason that the “behind-the-scenes” threads were unspooled seconds after the righty’s $18 million team option (!!) wasn’t picked up in Texas.
For weeks, the buzz faded, though. The Red Sox, in need of several big swings on the pitching market, made it to the front of the line. So did the Mets.
But as Kluber’s pitching showcase approaches, the Yankees are very much back at the forefront, as the media picks up on the team’s connections again piece by piece. Former Cleveland pitching healer Matt Blake is on the Yankees’ side now. Kluber’s strength and conditioning guru Eric Cressey — who owns the facility his workout is taking place at — is a Yankees employee.
But what if the Yankees use all their inside tracks, like what they see, and still lose out on a total reclamation project because of…money again? Come on now. We understand the skittishness in the DJ LeMahieu chase (somewhat), but this is just a cheap flyer.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post details a scenario in which the Mets flex their muscles on the Yankees in truly the most marginal way possible. And if the Steinbrenner family leaves Kluber’s showcase impressed and then allows this to happen? It might be time to draw up the sale papers ourselves and forge some front office signatures.
As Sherman put it:
But what if the Mets like what they see? What if they like what they see at a time when few other clubs want to take on payroll, even on surer things? What if they like what they see and have Cohen’s wallet as a separator? These, after all, are not Jeff Wilpon’s father’s Mets any longer.
Rich Hill, a quality but injury-prone pitcher, signed last offseason with the Twins for $3 million with $9.5 million in incentives based on innings and starts. Assume that Kluber will fall into the same realm — a low base with a chance to make substantially more with healthy pitching. How many teams in this squeeze-your-dollars atmosphere would even offer Kluber the Hill deal?
If the Yankees are scared by including $9 million in incentives — most of which won’t even come close to being approached, like Cy Young escalators and the like — then is there anything that doesn’t scare them?
Does the word “money” now make this front office jump, too?
We were raised to believe there was no such thing as a bad one-year deal. Are all deals financially terrifying now? Are the Yankees scared to order too many free ice cube trays for promo nights?
If the Yankees end up passing on Kluber, fine. There are far more stable fish in the sea.
But if they allow the Mets to punk them with — perish the thought — spooky, scary incentives, then the Steinbrenners’ rot goes deeper than we thought.