The New York Yankees signaled their exit from the Freddie Freeman sweepstakes when they signed Anthony Rizzo to a two-year, $32 million contract late Tuesday night. A good signing? Yes. But not a blockbuster one, and not the best first baseman in the game.
Fans would’ve sat back and saved the criticism for another year had the Yankees just went that extra mile to sign a surefire game-changer at a single position. Instead, they opted for minimal risk and shorter-term deals. Surprising? No. But still disappointing.
Upon learning the details of Freeman’s contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, however — the two sides agreed to terms late on Wednesday night — fans can’t help but think the Yankees missing out on the World Series champ could only mean one of two things.
Either Freeman was never interested in the Yankees … or Hal Steinbrenner wasn’t willing to go as high as many expected him to after various reports linked New York to the star slugger for months.
So, which is it? Because a six-year, $162 million contract ($27 million AAV) isn’t prohibitive by any means and would’ve solidified the now-questionable first base position for at least the next four years.
It’d be great if fans could get some answers here via insight into the negotiations from someone like general manager Brian Cashman.
The Yankees missing out on Freddie Freeman can only mean one of two things
An earlier report from Jon Heyman before the Yanks signed Rizzo suggested that Freeman wasn’t interested in coming to New York, but that’s only from one source — and it could’ve also just been the Yankees using Heyman as a mouthpiece to get the information they wanted out there to make it look like they tried but it was out of their hands.
There was more from Heyman, too, claiming Freeman had a bigger offer elsewhere but ultimately decided on the Dodgers for less.
There’s no evidence to suggest the Yankees were that “bigger deal,” especially with the Blue Jays, Red Sox, Padres, Rays and other “mystery teams” involved, but it’s certainly more in line with the narrative that Freeman was likely eyeing LA as his first option after the Braves shut the door. The Yankees’ interest was long documented, but it never went beyond that.
Another reality of the situation is that stars don’t really want to come to New York anymore, for understandable reasons. The taxes are high. The media is unforgiving. The expectations are overbearing. The fans are ruthless. Again, outside of Gerrit Cole, for whom the Yankees had to overpay to the tune of $79 million, and the 2014 spending spree, what have they done in free agency for the better part of the last decade?
Maybe it’s the Yankees not going over the top in free agency like they used to. Maybe it’s just a general disinterest among top players to put more pressure on themselves coming to New York. Maybe it’s a little bit of both. But it explains why most of the Yankees’ heavy lifting has been done on the trade market since 2015.