In case you needed further evidence that the New York Yankees were likely done spending money this offseason, a few free agency moves made by other teams (and one division rival) last week should help put this conversation to bed.
First, the Yankees watched Wandy Peralta leave for San Diego, after the Padres gave him a four-year, $16.5 million contract with three opt outs. Then, Keynan Middleton joined the St. Louis Cardinals on a one-year, $11 million contract. We'll admit, though; those were pricey, given the Yankees are paying a 100% tax on any further expenditures (Wandy would've cost $8 million in 2024 and Middleton would've cost $22 million).
But the final blow was the Tampa Bay Rays signing Phil Maton. The two sides are reportedly finalizing a deal (as of Saturday) and the details aren't yet known, but they're very likely to be team friendly because the Rays have made it a point to cut payroll this offseason.
Maton made $2.55 million in his final year of arbitration with the Astros, with whom he just had a career year. The right-hander logged a 3.00 ERA, 3.74 FIP and 1.12 WHIP with 74 strikeouts in 68 games (66 innings) in 2023.
This is hardly the end of the world for the Yankees, though some fans might tell you otherwise as parts of Twitter were up in arms over it on Saturday. Then again, one could argue that's a deranged way of thinking.
Yankees News: Rays signing NYY target, Joe Girardi joins YES, Corbin Burnes trade
Maton did finish in the 95th percentile (or better) for expected batting average, hard-hit percentage and average exit velocity in 2023, but a middle reliever was not the missing piece for the Yankees heading into 2024. Time to get a grip. If the roster is finished, it's finished. The Yankees have plenty of pitchers that need to prove themselves, and they'll have the chance to do that for a few months before the team has to make decisions at the trade deadline.
And the offseason isn't all that quiet. The Yankees organization also made a move on Friday when it was reported the YES Network brought former manager and catcher Joe Girardi aboard as an analyst for the 2024 season. Girardi will reunite with David Cone, Paul O'Neill and Jeff Nelson, all of whom were his teammates at some point during his Yankees tenure.
Girardi has previously worked for YES (2004, 2007) and MLB Network (2018) and is currently employed by the Marquee Sports Network (owned by the Chicago Cubs), where he will continue to work as he splits duties with YES.
Griardi hopefully arrives as the Yankees are on the upswing because, man, if they slog through another regular season or choke in the playoffs again, anything critical he might have to relay will make headlines all over New York.
Yeah, more positive headlines, please! And not ones where our division rival swipes an elite trade target of ours, which is exactly what happened on Thursday when the Orioles caught everybody by surprise and traded for Brewers ace Corbin Burnes.
It's been a big topic of conversation among Yankees fans, and manager Aaron Boone was asked about it at the "Pinstripe Pride" autograph signing event at the American Dream shopping mall in East Rutherford, NJ.
“That could be a little bit of a problem,” Boone said. “Obviously an amazing pitcher going to a great team. We’ll see a lot of him and look forward to the opportunity to compete against the best.”
Pretty much all Boone could say there, though it would've been great to hear a few other inflammatory responses like:
"Yeah, sure would've been great if our front office was on that after we saw with the Orioles ultimately surrendered to the Brewers in return."
"If our offense is anything like it was in 2023, Burnes is probably going to toss a no-hitter against us in 2024."
"This should light a fire under Carlos Rodón, who kind of owes us one this season after how bad his first year in pinstripes went."
Just kiddin'. Well, maybe not about the first one. But now it's definitely important to wonder where the Yankees stand in Dylan Cease talks with the White Sox and/or who they might've now shifted their attention to for their midsummer plans at the trade deadline with arguably the best option now off the market.