Yankees’ Plan This Offseason Could Be Setting Them Up For Future Failure

Courtesy of the AP

(The following is being syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod)

One of the posts I read over the weekend that really stuck with me was Greg Corcoran’s open letter to Brian Cashman over at Bronx Baseball Daily letting Cash know what he thinks of the Yankees’ offseason plan.  The general theme of Greg’s post was that while he can get on board with what the team has done this offseason to transition to the sub-$189 mil payroll in 2014, he didn’t see their no-spending approach as a real plan for success after the payroll ceiling had been reached.  Specifically, he cited the Yankees’ failure to sign or trade for useful players on multi-year deals and their perceived assumption that multiple prospects are going to come up and contribute as flaws in their logic, and that got me thinking.

As it is, the Yankees have seen their monetary advantage shrink over the past few seasons as teams started signing their own players to new deals before they hit free agency.  Now, with that spending already capped and more teams working to extend their big names, any plan to reload after reaching 189 could prove useless if there are no big free agent targets left.

As it stands, the biggest free agent available after the 2013 season is going to be Robinson Cano, and there have already been plenty of debates about what the Yankees should do about that situation.  With all the money they have coming off the books after this season, it’s likely that they’ll use a large chunk of that to nail down a new deal for Cano.  The leftover roster spots will be filled by another round of cheap, 1-year free agents and assorted prospects, constructing a club that Greg correctly described as one “getting closer and closer to a nonplayoff team.”  The big free agent fish are supposed to be a part of the 2014-2015 free agent class, but that well could dry up on the Yankees before they even get to it.

That future free agent class, if nothing happens between now and then, would include position players like Elvis Andrus, Chase Headley, and Colby Rasmus, and pitchers Clayton Kershaw, Felix Hernandez, Justin Verlander, Yovani Gallardo, Jon Lester, and Johnny Cueto.  Any of those players would be a welcome addition to what is sure to be a still older and less-talented Yankee roster after the 2014 season, and after resetting their luxury tax penalties the Yankees would be wise to open the checkbook back up for players of this caliber.  The only problem is that some, most, or possibly even all of them might not be around with the way the game has trended recently.

It wasn’t that long ago that we were labeling guys like Ryan Braun, Evan Longoria, David Price, and Joey Votto “future Yankees.”  And in the past year or so, all of them have received contract extensions from their current teams, some for only a few years and some for long enough to take the players right through the remainder of their peak years.  Looking back at the potential 2014-2015 class, there’s already seeds of those type of extensions being sewn.  King Felix is in the early stages of negotiating a new deal with Seattle, as is Kershaw with the Dodgers.  The Tigers would be out of their minds to let Verlander go, and Andrus is going to end up with a long-term deal somewhere whether he gets traded by Texas or whether Jurickson Profar does.  By the time the Yankees have money to spend, this well could already be dried up.

And that’s assuming they are even willing to spend after 2014.  Things said by Hal Steinbrenner recently indicate that at least he would like to see the Yankees maintain a payroll somewhere around the $189 luxury tax avoidance level even after the Yankees reset their penalties.  That, combined with the rest of MLB’s newfound desire to keep their best players in their current uniforms, could leave the Yankees with few options to replace their lost production and an even bigger dependence on their farm system, which Greg was quick to remind us has a greater than 50% failure rate even among the best prospects.

The Yankees have put themselves in a tough spot this offseason, not just for 2013 but for the years to come in the near future.  They’ve shown their hand when it comes to involvement in big trade opportunities and big FA negotiations, and that hand isn’t holding big-money contract offers.  It’s not holding anything.  With other teams now seeing the benefit to locking their good young players up long-term before they hit the open market, another practice the Yankees continue to stubbornly not engage in, there are going to be much slimmer pickings for the Yankees whenever they do decide to open up their wallets again.  As Greg said, I certainly hope this is something the front office has considered and factored into their offseason plans for the next few years, but I’m not 100% convinced that it is.

Born in Dover, Delaware and raised in Danbury, Connecticut, Brad now resides in Wisconsin, where he regularly goes out of his way to remind Brewers fans that their team will never be as good as the Yankees. When he’s not writing for IIATMS and An A-Blog for A-Rod, he likes to spend his time incorporating “Seinfeld” quotes into everyday conversation, critiquing WWE storylines, and drinking enough beer to be good at darts.

8 thoughts on “Yankees’ Plan This Offseason Could Be Setting Them Up For Future Failure

  1. Robert

    Interesting article. There’s another problem with the Yankee’s current approach; by sitting on their checkbook, they’re empowering and encouraging their rivals to buy now on cheap in a negotiating environment that is not inflated by Yankee dollars.

  2. Bill

    David Price hasn’t signed an extension, fwiw.

    • You’re right. New 1-year deal. Mistake on my part.

  3. Scout

    Possibly the current Steinbrenner generation of ownership is much less committed to winning than its predecessor, and prefers instead to rake in large profits from YES and the new stadium. With an added play-off team now, it becomes easier to claim you are competitive, which may be all the present ownership cares about. The post is certainly correct that most of the high-end talent will never reach free agency. Other organizations have wised up to the fact that it makes much more sense to sign extensions with players through their productive years, rather than overpaying for their decline.

  4. sportsfan

    I want everyone to know im a yankees fan saying this… we cant be a playoff team forever … look at the nationals they were the worst tean in the leauge for years and now with all theres first round picks (strasburg and harper) they r a playoff team. Let the dogers take the sportlight as the new best team. Trade grandy and cano before there contracts r up and rebuild.

  5. smurfy

    you’re right. Far from readying to sell the team, Hal is complying with the CBA in order to develop a feasible, sustainable means of consistently fielding a winner.

    The “democracy” of the monopoly has subverted any means of using George’s example. They have finally enforced their criticism that he was ruining the sport.

  6. Mike D

    I hope the Yankees reinvest much of the payroll savings into scouting and player development with the ultimate goal of creating a pipeline of talent within their own minor league system.

  7. Duh, Innings!

    Let’s say Hughes has such a good 2013, the Yanks lock him up, and Nova has a serviceable somewhat bounceback 2013 (I’m thinking mid 4 ERA.) The 2014 Yanks could have a 3/5ths homegrown, 3/5ths cheap, 4/5ths 27 or under, all-under 34 rotation in Sabathia, Hughes, Nova, Phelps, and Pineda to begin 2014, and who’s to say Kuroda and/or Pettitte couldn’t be in the mix for 2014? If Kuroda turns out a 3.XX-4.25 ERA 2013 and Pettitte does the same, the Yanks should absolutely consider bringing back one or both of them for 2014, ef age. If they let go of Kuroda and Pettitte, that’s $27M cleared.

    I think Robertson has the mental makeup and talent to take over closer from Mo should Mo retire after 2013, Logan has shown he’s a reliable primary lefty reliever, and you could do alot worse than Chamberlain as a #3 or lower reliever. The Yanks would have $10M off the books if Mo retires after 2013 – plenty of money to sign a couple of relievers. Aardsma might pitch well enough to be brought back. Robertson/Aardsma/Chamberlain/Logan/Two free agents/Last man in the pen TBD for 2014? Why not?

    Too many people on here are assuming 2013 guys won’t be in the picture for 2014.

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