The New York Yankees entered the offseason with the goal of staying under the luxury tax threshold, but those dreams can be kissed goodbye. With free-agent Omar Infante still available and the Philadelphia Phillies announcing the team is willing to deal aces Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee, the Yankees can’t let these guys walk.
Hamels and Infante are exactly what the doctor ordered. New York is in dire need of a reliable second baseman as well as starting pitching, and it seems the team will continue its trend of taking the necessary means to assemble a win-now roster. After obtaining a band of All-Stars in Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran, why not sign two more All-Stars?
The Phillies stated the team is not willing to eat any money in a trade for either one of Hamels or Lee, which means the Yankees would be paying up to $132.5 million if a trade for Hamels was completed, who would be the better option for the Yankees in comparison to Lee. Going after Lee instead of Hamels would be cheaper, but in the long run Hamels would produce more for a longer period of time with Lee being 35-years-old.
The Yankees are probably the only team willing to seriously consider taking up Hamels’ contract simply because they are the Yankees. Hamels is set up to earn $22.5 million next year. The Yankees could possibly afford him after already offering Robinson Cano $25 million a year. The most difficult part of the deal would be getting the Phillies to agree to a deal involving aging Yankees outfielders and prospects who have less-than-stunning minor league numbers.
With Masahiro Tanaka‘s status unknown and no serious talks going on with pitchers Matt Garza or Ubaldo Jimenez, Hamels seems to be a splash the Yankees have been waiting for in the pitcher’s market. Hamels will turn 30 at the end of the month and is a proven top-of-the-rotation guy with a decorated postseason resume.
As for Infante, the Yankees could soon go after him as well. Infante is reportedly seeking a long-term deal around $8 million per. That is $17 million a year less than what was offered to Cano. If the Yanks are able to release a few aging outfielders in the process of acquiring Hamels, inking Infante would be attainable. However, the team would not only have barriers in finding the right pieces to entice Philadelphia into a trade but also hoping Hamels doesn’t have New York on his no-trade clause list.
If New York was to snag Hamels and sign Infante to go along with the recent acquisitions, the payroll would eclipse the tax threshold but would fall in the range in which the Yankees reached last season. If Brian Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner are truly set on winning a ring in 2014, the luxury tax probably won’t get in the way. Furthermore, if the Yankees’ front office wants an increase in attendance and sales, signing Hamels should get that done if Ellsbury, McCann and Beltran haven’t already.