Less than a week after Hal Steinbrenner assured Yankee fans that his team’s mandate to get below the luxury tax threshold before next season would not get in the way of assembling a championship caliber team, a report comes out that seriously puts those assurances in doubt. According to Jon Paul Morosi, the Yankees are “reluctant” to enter the Upton sweepstakes, and Morosi fingers the 2014 budget plan as the reason.
As those of you who know me might have expected, I spent most of the weekend in a football coma and didn’t get around to writing about this yesterday, which I thought might mellow my opinion on this story a little bit. It didn’t. There’s a lot of variables that could be in play here, namely that I still have trouble seeing the Yankees matching up with the Diamondbacks on a package, especially with other teams with deeper organizations involved, but if they really are passing on Upton simply because he’s owed roughly $10 million per year on his current contract, that’s just completely indefensible for the richest team in the league. The Yankees are looking for a right-handed hitting outfielder, and Upton is a 25 year old with tremendous power and an MVP caliber season to his name already.
Morosi (seemingly) speculates that the Yankees could try to move Curtis Granderson to Seattle in exchange for a similar package to the one they just offered up for Upton, and could then flip those guys to Arizona. I don’t think that’s particularly likely (even with a contract extension, Granderson is much older than Upton and not as good), but it suggests that an unwillingness to part with the team’s own prospects could be an issue here as well. That’s not quite as ridiculous as the possibility that Upton’s salary is too expensive for the Yankees, but it’s pretty close.