Are the New York Yankees in bed with the … MLB Players’ Association?! What is this? Everyone thought Hal Steinbrenner was firmly standing in the corner with his fellow owners trying to save every last penny that comes across the finance team’s desk.
Why do we say this? Because, as usual, the Yankees did their classic “due diligence” by being involved with just about every notable free agent … only to come away with ZERO of them. They did one of their famous salary-maneuvering trades and added a few players to minor league deals.
But Corey Seager? He’s in Texas. Carlos Correa? Minnesota (HA!). Trevor Story? He’s a member of the Boston Red Sox. Max Scherzer is a Met. Carlos Rodón is a Giant. You get the picture, right?
Once again, the Yankees failed to make a splash in free agency, which is apparently the new norm. Their splurge for Gerrit Cole doesn’t count because their failure to secure an ace when, at the time, that was their only glaring issue, would’ve sent the baseball world ablaze in a very bad way.
All the more confusing was this offseason, though. The Yankees had a clear hole at shortstop with nobody capable of starting in 2022. It was evident the organization had some sort of budgetary restrictions, too.
But after the Josh Donaldson trade with the Twins, perhaps that wasn’t the case. The Yankees unloaded the salaries of Gio Urshela and Gary Sánchez (combined ~$15 million) but took on all of the $50 million owed to Donaldson through the 2023 season. OK … so they’re willing to blow by the CBT thresholds?!
The Yankees’ interest in a number of star free agents was not real.
You can see what’s going on here. The Yankees, who have done nothing but internally hype up their middle infield prospects (Anthony Volpe, Oswald Peraza, Oswaldo Cabrera), were never “interested” in importing a superstar name that would’ve cost them a ton in the short-term or long-term deal in the 6-10 year range.
If they were, then why didn’t they sign Correa to the short-term contract the Twins did? He’ll cost $35 million in 2022 with no guarantees beyond that (he has two opt-out clauses). Why didn’t they just commit to 27-year-old Corey Seager and bank on moving him to third when Volpe/Peraza were ready? Why did they let the Red Sox sign Story, who agreed to play another position, which seemingly would’ve been sensible for what the Yankees were trying to do? Some of these moves make sense and some seem to be stretches. But there’s a reason for the Yankees to at least “be involved” in most of them because their roster is still incomplete.
Instead, they went the “cheaper, less risky” route (as they’ve grown accustomed to doing), further proving that they were never going to acquire a legitimate star shortstop but not outright saying that because it would have depressed the markets for those free agents.
Can’t have another labor dispute after those last three months! Time to get in line, be “fake” interested, and ensure these players get the exact amount of money they deserve! Because that seems like a totally foolproof way to do business as we move forward.
So if you were among the fans who got their hopes up at every turn when the Yankees were “contacting the agent of X player” or “requesting medicals for X player,” we’re sorry. We tried to tell you. But they were never truly going to make a push, and now we know that was the case all along.