The New York Yankees signed Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera and Hiroki Kuroda to one year contracts. Russell Martin was allowed to waltz away fairly cheaply to the Pirates. Ichiro Suzuki‘s agent says he is tired of waiting for the Yankees and is now listening to other offers. Nick Swisher is in the rear view mirror. The only contracts the Yankees have added so far are roster fillers like Jim Miller, etc, and one year deals that more than likely will be off the books for 2014. Curtis Granderson, Phil Hughes, Robinson Cano and Joba Chamberlain are all dangerously close to free agency in 2014. We have all heard to the point of nausea that the Yankees have given themselves a hard cap of $189 million in 2014. What nobody is saying is that as of right now, there is only about $96 million tied up for 2014.
Let’s look at that $96 million. $70.5 million of that is tied up in three guys: C.C. Sabathia, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira. Derek Jeter will account for only $3 million if the Yankees buy out the last year $8 to $10 million if Jeter picks up his player option. The rest is made up of only a few important arbitration pieces in Brett Gardner, Ivan Nova and David Robertson. That’s it! All the other arbitration eligible players are fungible unless Michael Pineda comes back and has a decent 2013. Then you can add a couple of million for him in arbitration.
Doing the math, if–and that is a huge IF–the Yankees decide to extend Granderson and Cano, you can add say $25 million for Cano and perhaps $17 or $18 for Granderson and we are up to $140 million. In other words, not even close to $189 million. And yet, Martin was deemed too expensive as was Swisher. Something is not adding up here. Even if the Yankees extend Phil Hughes, we are probably only talking about $10 to $12 per season. And still we are $28 million short of the dreaded $189 million.
Add to this math equation that the Yankees are going to receive some $420 million from News Corp as part of the sale of YES shares and the $85 million per year YES will pay the team for rights to broadcast the games. Even at a casual glance done by a casual fan, there seems to be something really fishy going on with all this hand-wringing that the Yankees can’t afford players and do not want to sign long term deals.
So what is really going on here? The suspicious inner writer remembers when the software company that was the longtime livelihood went through a severe austerity move that was puzzling at the time. Things all became clear when the company was sold soon after. With the Dodgers recently purchased for two billion dollars, could the Yankees be getting as lean as possible to entice a buyer to unload multiple billions for the Yankees?
We all knew George Steinbrenner. The Yankees were his baby. He would have rather have gnawed off his own arm than even consider having someone else own the team. But we don’t see the same kind of team love in his children. Who could blame them for wanting to maximize their inheritance and make bundles of money that would put them in the stratosphere?
And if not that, then what? Could this all be a ruse to wait for just the right free agent and score another Sabathia-like franchise move? Well, that is more the optimistic view. But when we see the Yankees never even getting around to offering Martin and Ichiro deals, where would this optimism come from? The Yankees will have only until Spring Training is over as a window to extend Cano, Granderson and Hughes. The team thus far has dragged its feet and could very well see all three hit the open market. Then what?
Unless the math of this post is seriously off (and that is always possible), adding a good player at multiple years will not break the bank. Heck, there even seems to be room to bring Josh Hamilton on board. How much fun would that be with 81 of his games at Yankee Stadium? That is what a glance at the bottom line reveals to this perspective. But instead, all we hear are statements from Brian Cashman that the Yankees do not have the financial latitude to spend money in 2014. Something does not add up. At least from this seat, the BS meter is tingling on overdrive. The only thing that does seem obvious is that putting the best team possible on the field is not the top priority.