The New York Yankees are rumored to be working on a trade with the St. Louis Cardinals for David Freese. In doing so, the Yanks would have a legitimate third baseman for 2014 as Alex Rodriguez faces possible suspension and increased DH duties.
This would not be a good trade for the Yankees. If it happens, it will only contribute to the fundamental flaw of the organization: trading prospects for established veterans who have two or three years left in their primes.
Freese is coming off a down year, so he may not cost much. Nevertheless, the Yankees do not have a deep farm system. They can’t afford to trade prospects for a 31-year-old third baseman.
For two decades, the Yankees could successfully go for broke every year because of the player development Gene Michael established in the mid-1990s. But the organization needs to realize that they’re at the end of one of the greatest eras in the team’s history. They want to contend for the World Series every year, but they no longer have the foundation of players that will allow them to continue to do so.
If the Yankees maintain a win-at-all-costs mentality, they’re going to run themselves into the ground (2013 was a preview). Ideally, you want to win year to year with the same players instead of relying on a revolving door of free agent acquisitions. But rather than building on the next generation of homegrown talent, the Yankees have traded prospects like Austin Jackson and Ian Kennedy for players who have already established their careers elsewhere. Their obsession with winning now is killing them in the long term.
The Boston Red Sox have won three World Series in the last 10 years. Suffice to say, this will go down as one of the most successful eras in the team’s history. Yet, four times in the last decade, they didn’t even make the playoffs (2006, 2010, 2011 and 2012). The point is the Yankees need to accept the fact that the era of making the playoffs every year might be coming to an end and, more importantly, it’s not the end of the world as long as they’re in a position where they can improve the following year.
The Yankees don’t have to rebuild by punting away an entire season like the Red Sox did in 2012, but they must get away from signing mega free agent contracts in favor of developing homegrown players – like the Red Sox did in 2013.
A trade for Freese could be an excellent move for the Yankees in 2014, but beyond next year, it will only contribute to a self-destructive cycle.