The New York Yankees wound up with a successful offseason (considering they’re 36 games over .500 as July begins and have beaten all the league’s top teams), but many of the big names they were reportedly either “chasing” or “favored to sign” never showed up.
Carlos Correa was a lock, according to your favorite Twitter account with a blurred-out player headshot avatar. A Matt Olson trade was at the “one-yard line,” according to an anonymous man who once kindly called the Yanks Go Yard Twitter account “cancer.”
Above all else, though, the Yankees began the offseason as “favorites” for a short-term Justin Verlander deal, and ended the lockout “surprisingly competitive” in the race for Freddie Freeman. As of this week, though, it’s become clearer than ever that neither of those narratives were factual.
Can fans really complain about the swings and misses? Freeman is having plenty of trouble in Hollywood this week, which would be unnecessary dramatic flavor for a near-perfect Yankees start. Verlander? He’d be a fantastic leader for this staff, but he’d also have taken every last cent. Want to replace Joey Gallo? Not happening in a post-Verlander world.
Perhaps that’s why, according to Joel Sherman’s conversations with Verlander in the Bronx this week, the Yankees were never “favorites” at all, but rather last-second DM sliders.
They never had a shot.
Yankees Rumors: NYY never involved with Freddie Freeman, Justin Verlander
There’s a reason Verlander’s own brother broke the news of his return to Houston — it was always going to be Houston. The Yankees barely even gave him the time of day, and likely wouldn’t have signed him unless he was absolutely desperate.
If a deal ever got close, you know Ben would’ve stepped in and stopped it, anyway. Nobody in the Verlander family could ever pitch for the franchise that proudly touts Babe Ruth, who Ben believes killed his poor wife in a fire.
With JV in the fold, the Yankees would be the World Series favorite of all World Series favorites; he’s 10-3 with a 2.03 ERA, and without him, Dusty Baker would be constantly rallying the troops in Houston, telling Framber Valdez to give the big guns hell and fight for the little guy. Instead, the Astros remain the most likely team to be a thorn in the Yankees’ side, though the Red Sox and Blue Jays also aren’t going away. There’s no use getting bent out of shape over it, though. It was never going to happen.
And then there’s Freeman, who was reportedly in the Yankees’ sights before they ended up with Anthony Rizzo, their rumored “third choice” behind the Braves slugger and Matt Olson.
Well, for all those fans who thought they’d uncovered a “leverage play” back in the day … bingo! Ken Rosenthal’s reporting this week on Freeman’s emotional return to Atlanta indicated he instructed his agents that he’d vastly prefer to return to the Braves, and they should start running cover to make it happen.
In essence, the Yankees’ connection to Freeman was mentioned so many times in a short span because Freeman’s camp asked for it to be sprinkled around. No, he was never going to join the Yankees. Yes, it’s perfectly alright to have Anthony Rizzo and his 40-homer pace in place instead for less money and fewer years.
Things are going fine in Yankee Land, actually, and it appears Brian Cashman pushed most of the right buttons despite missing these connections entirely.
Carlos Correa over Isiah Kiner-Falefa, though … now, that one’s interesting.