It is no secret that the New York Yankees are thinking about the future. The $189 million, which is closer to $177 million when player benefits are added, luxury tax has been a hot topic all off-season as the Yankees have failed to truly improve their team from last year. In a normal year, the Yankees would have likely retained the services of Nick Swisher and Eric Chavez and would certainly have kept Russell Martin. They also wouldn’t have been outbid for the services of role players like Scott Hairston, Nate Schierholtz and Jeff Keppinger. However, this isn’t a normal year for the Yankees.
With the Yankees there is no such thing as a rebuilding year. The Yankees are expected to compete every year and depend on a fan base that accepts nothing less. However, the Yankees are doing just that, and their desire to save money in 2014 is a direct indication that things have changed in the Bronx. This could be a good thing for the Yankees who can no longer be used as tools to drive up prices or be considered the bane of baseball by doling out enormous contracts for the downside of too many careers.
GM Brian Cashman is trying to buy time until his young prospects are ready to take the baton from guys like Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte while still staying competitive. Demolishing a team that won the most games in the American League last season and went to the ALCS would not have gone over well, although many think the Yankees did just that by allowing their free agents to walk. The Yankees valued the draft pick compensation over the production of guys like Rafael Soriano and Nick Swisher which should help the Yankees restock their farm system that has been devastated by injuries and ineffectiveness recently.
Now, the Yankees have another quandary. The 2013 season looks like a cross between transition and being competitive, something that could hurt the Yankees this season or in the future. There are several expiring contracts including those of Phil Hughes, Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano. Hal Steinbrenner has already said he plans on offering Cano a new contract. There has been no such vote of confidence for Hughes or Granderson.
If the Yankees don’t plan on re-signing either of them they can expect a draft pick in return as compensation. Compensation, however, is not guaranteed as the top 10 picks in the draft are protected. That leaves the Yankees banking on the unknown, something that they should not do.
The ideal situation for the Yankees would be for Hughes and Granderson when he returns to be having good years but the team struggling to stay in contention for a playoff spot. This would possibly motivate Brian Cashman to seek deals for his future free agents that could net the Yankees some meaningful prospects. This isn’t exactly what Yankee fans want to hear but it is the cold reality of the current situation. Hughes and Granderson are not a part of the future of the Yankees. They simply can’t afford to sign them and Cano and hope to get under $189 million in 2014 while fielding a competitive team unless a miracle happens and Alex Rodriguez’s contract is taken off the books which isn’t going to happen.
If the Yankees decide to go the trade route they should be able to get some value in return for a 40-home run hitter and a 27-year-old pitcher who has won 39 games the last three years. This might be the best option for the Yankees at the moment. This is the reality that has become New York Yankees baseball, at least for the time being.