New York Yankees

Although the New York Yankees might seem like a cast of misfits, there is definitely a plan in place set in motion by General Manager Brian Cashman.

By William Chase

When recently discussing the current state of the New York Yankees with a fellow observer and close friend, the conversation centered around the hotly debated topic:

What exactly is the actual plan for the Yankees?

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In talking about the Yankees’ spending, new prospects, management and many other facets of the organization, I mentioned the signings of outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, pitcher Masahiro Tanaka and outfielder Carlos Beltran were the Yankees last attempt at trying to throw money at another World Series.


Trying to recreate the magic. One more time. But now lesson finally learned.

It would appear.

Just like that 2013 offseason, which saw them spend over $200 million on three free agents, the Yankees had done it before, spending $423 million following 2008, their first missed postseason since 1995.

They had freed payroll space, and able to spend money, brought in A.J. Burnett, CC Sabathia and first baseman Mark Teixeira, culminating in the clubs’ 27th championship.

Jason Giambi had moved on and Mike Mussina retired—the latter came to New York in 2001, just missing out on the Yankees’ 2000 championship, and both left prior to the 2009 title.

The three signings that fateful 2008 offseason complimented the rest of the roster perfectly. Alex Rodriguez put up heathy offensive numbers, while having Mark Teixeira protect him in the lineup. New York never seemed out of any games, getting clutch hit after clutch hit. Comeback wins were the norm.

Robinson Cano‘s departure following 2013, again, opened the door for New York to spend money.

In 2009 the offense sizzled, the pitching was effective, and it was much like the classic 1990s New York Yankees’ teams.

For the 2014 season, it might have been a reach to think the same championship magic could be recreated with an older roster, and centered around the likes of very talented, yet oft-injured Jacoby Ellsbury, and for $153 million, when considering his best season was 2011, and one he’s never come close to fully duplicating.

Pinning hopes on a player in Beltran, who was already on the wrong side of 30, and was no where near the level of an outfielder he once was, might have been farfetched, however he showed he was still a capable bat down the stretch last season.

Tanaka, 27, still represents tremendous upside, and has largely been the pitcher you would hope, however, he too, has succumbed to injury. The inevitable Tommy John surgery has been avoided for Tanaka so far, but it seems like it’s always a nearby possibility.

These Yankees were not the quick fix like they might have appeared to fans, and for management to think they could still buy their way through, well it was worth the gamble.

Or was it?

Everyone knew George Steinbrenner’s commitment to winning over the years: The Boss’ win now philosophy. The fanbase wanted to see results. Obviously dollar signs don’t always translate into results. But it felt like a way to be proactive, as opposed to playing out a season.

Transition years were not the Yankee way.

It’s not even that Ellsbury can’t be a force, or that Beltran—a .292 hitter in the second half last season—can’t continue to inflict damage. Alas it’s obvious those guys, by themselves, can’t be the difference maker.

So back to this plan: What is it?

After missing the playoffs again in 2014, and making it as a wild card entry before bowing out with a whimper in 2015, the Yankees have had an interesting offseason. Quite simply, they’re officially done with their spending ways. For now.

It probably is an adjustment to get away from shelling out large dollars when it has worked in the past. An organization that has seen the lean years, and experienced triumphant glory, you want to show your fanbase you are committed to winning at all costs.

Even if not spending might be in the best interests. As it is now.

Let’s say New York signed ace David Price to a $200 million contract: Are they better every fifth day? Sure. Are they a World Series team because of that? No.

An extreme instance, but one that makes the point. I believe those mega-signings are best when thinking that certain player might put you over the top. If your team is still marginal, signing or not, it’s best to divvy up that money for other areas.

Easier said than done.

This offseason saw the Arizona Diamondbacks spend over $200 million on a pitcher in Zack Greinke. The Yankees traded a middle reliever in Justin Wilson for prospects. Essentially saving money.

How much money have the Yankees spent in free agency for the MLB roster?

$0

What the New York Yankees have done is bolster their bullpen, an already dominant group, with flamethrower Aroldis Chapman, traded a reliable innings-eater in Adam Warren and acquired former shortstop-turned-second baseman Starlin Castro from the Chicago Cubs.

Losing Warren is a tough loss for New York, but you have to give to get, and it’s a good move for New York, in acquiring Castro, who’s still only 25-years-old.

Without any acquisitions, I like the Yankees shying away from spending major dollars and instead looking at the bigger picture.

With the acquisitions, I like the current makeup of the team. The AL East is wide-open, and though New York isn’t necessarily a slam-dunk postseason team, they are always competitive. If they are able to get more consistency from their rotation and lineup, they have a potentially dangerous bunch.

Outfielder Aaron Judge could be close to finding his way to the Bronx. First baseman Greg Bird will begin 2016 in the minors, and showed he could be the longterm answer at first base for New York. Second baseman Rob Refsnyder had a shot last season, and will look to figure more into the Yankees’ longterm plans.

Castro represents another young, yet veteran presence in the infield, and should be an exciting part of the double play combo with shortstop Didi Gregorius, who broke out in a big way last season.

Castro could also get time at third, allowing Ref more opportunities at second.

The Yankees will be shedding more big salaries in the near future, something for Yankees’ fans to be excited about. Not just so that they can replace them with big free agents, though the right free agent in the right situation is always encouraged, but because now, and onward, the Yankees look to be getting younger.

As the team is currently constructed right now, and most definitely in the grand scheme of things, yes, there is a plan in place.

It may not have always felt like it, but with certainty, the Bronx Bombers are starting to boost a new minor league pipeline, committing to a younger core and a better future through key trades, and relying less on splashy signings.

NEXT: Where Does Greg Bird Fit In?

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