Yankees actually deserve a break (for once) from 'free agent spending' accusation

It's misleading, actually!

Colorado Rockies  v San Diego Padres
Colorado Rockies v San Diego Padres / Denis Poroy/GettyImages
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It's deliciously ironic, if you like to stir the pot, that in the very same offseason in which the Yankees have made their largest addition since 2019, they also haven't spent a single dollar in free agency.

Unfortunately for the front office haters -- of which I am one! -- this statement is more of a trick question or barroom trivia this offseason rather than an actual indictment.

As Jeff Passan pointed out in his column published Wednesday, the Yankees are one of four remaining teams -- and the only AL Team -- to avoid the market entirely. Prior to Boston's Lucas Giolito pact on Friday, the Red Sox had the leg up on the Yankees by $1 million, used entirely on ex-Rays reliever Cooper Criswell. That is the kind of offseason we're all mired in.

But ... that's the thing. The whole shebang is a mire, and the market still includes half of the top-50 free agents entering November. The starting pitchers haven't moved, despite more than 10 days passing since the Yankees tried and failed to pay Yoshinobu Yamamoto $300 million. Blake Snell is still out there. So is Jordan Montgomery. So are relievers Jordan Hicks, Josh Hader and Robert Stephenson. There is a lot of work to be done, and plenty of opportunity ahead of the Yankees if they're interested in adding to their budget -- and, with their current rotation, they almost certainly are.

There will be pressure on the Yankees to spend before Spring Training -- of course -- but not because their current free agent spending tally is a whopping goose egg (Cody Poteet's major league deal maybe counts and maybe doesn't, considering its split nature). There will be pressure on them because ... they traded for Juan Soto (and Alex Verdugo), adding $45 million of expenditures in the process! Pretty major technicality.

Yankees have added Juan Soto, Alex Verdugo money this offseason in 'free agency'

Guess the Yankees should've spent $40 million on Giolito so Twitter would lay off on them. Or maybe $15 million in IKF. Unfortunately, free agency is over and the Yankees no longer have the opportunity to -- oh, wait! Almost no one has signed thus far, and New York's braintrust has countless other opportunities to spend money still ahead of them!

Shohei Ohtani has been free agency's prize, but other than the once-in-a-lifetime Dodgers unicorn, Soto is the best player who's changed hands this winter. The Yankees acquired him. In an effort to grab an additional left-handed outfield bat, they took on Verdugo's most expensive season to date, his Arb. 3 walk year. It pales in comparison to the Dodgers' literal billion-plus dollars of free agent spending, but then again, so does everyone else's balance sheet -- and, if the Yankees could magically add $325 million to the books and Yoshinobu Yamamoto to the rotation, they surely would. They were, in fact, prepared to do so before he told them he preferred to realize a lifelong dream of making slightly more money -- sorry, "joining the Dodgers".

If the Yankees finish the offseason without shoring up their rotation in the current wildly overpriced pitching market (Frankie Montas?!), then you have every right to shame them. Cutting bait on Michael King, Jhony Brito, Randy Vásquez and Co. without having a non-Yamamoto Plan B would be negligent. But if they fill out the rotation with Dylan Cease or another high-profile trade target and reach March without a single "free agent dollar" being spent, that's no reason to whine.

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