Throughout the history of baseball, "God, we're stupid. What if some one else was ... even stupider than us, though?" has been a winning strategy, at times. Most recently, the 2012-13 Red Sox rode this time-honored path to World Series glory.
You remember that, right? Boston, stuck in the basement in '12 with Bobby Valentine at the helm, sold off Adrían González (who they'd acquired just one year prior), Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto (LOL) to the Dodgers. In exchange, they received a pile of prospects ranging from "interesting" to "just a guy with a name and face" ... but it didn't really matter who they received, because the Dodgers agreed to take on billions of dollars in the name of helping the BoSox out and making a splash.
Yup. We're only a decade removed Ned Colletti adding $250 million in salary just to help an East Coast ownership group out. González became a Dodgers fan favorite, Crawford and Beckett became also-rans, and Punto is the current Governor of California (not true), but that's all besides the point. The Red Sox had a problem set to weigh them down for a half-decade. The Dodgers, out of the goodness of their stupid little hearts, solved it. Boston won the 2013 World Series by using their freed-up payroll space on Shane Victorino, Jonny Gomes, Mike Napoli and others. Colletti deserves a ring.
Unfortunately, in 2023, the Yankees find themselves in the same predicament as Valentine's Red Sox, but without a stupid friend to tie their anchor to. Steve Cohen and the Mets just tried to pull off an abridged version of this plan, but even though Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander were both short-term commitments, nobody would take on their large sums. The Mets had to pay down Verlander's deal to just $39 million through 2025 for his beloved Astros to bite. The Sox strategy just isn't how the world works anymore, at least until Elon Musk buys a baseball team.
Yankees must hope to be bailed out by ... I don't know, the Angels this offseason?
The Yankees' only hope? What about the Angels, if Shohei Ohtani leaves this offseason?
Arte Moreno isn't the team's GM, but he is old-school foolish. Anaheim went all in this deadline (and prior to it), adding veterans like Mike Moustakas, Eduardo Escobar, Randal Grichuk, CJ Cron and Lucas Giolito, farm system be damned. It was an enjoyable spree, and injected a good deal of old-fashioned joy into a summer that could've been a slog/involved trading away the game's best player (which is a solid way to ruin the dream in a child's eyes!).
But what if it doesn't work? It would cost the Yankees significantly more than it cost the Red Sox to facilitate such a move, but Giancarlo Stanton and Anthony Rizzo seem like a pretty solid draw for a sputtering team without a farm next winter. Or maybe the Angels' rivals in Hollywood might want a small piece of Stanton's money if Ohtani doesn't choose them? They could sell it as a conquering hero returning to his childhood home -- as long as the Yankees foot most of the bill, only solving half of the problem.
There's about as much of a chance of the Yankees being aided by the Angels or Dodgers as there is of Josh Beckett, Adrían González and Carl Crawford returning to lead the Red Sox back to the Fall Classic, but hey, at least it's a sliver. And it's all the Yanks have left to hope for right now.