While the New York Yankees have always been known for big spending, that seems to no longer be the case after another money-less hot stove season.
I have been watching and loving baseball for as long as I can remember. One of my first baseball memories was the New York Yankees beating my San Diego Padres in the 1998 World Series. It was obviously a rough start for my love of baseball, but the game struck me in a way that nothing else did.
Flash forward three years and the Yankees were once again in the World Series, their fourth in a row, against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
While the memory from the 1998 series was only faint for me, the 2001 World Series is much more of a vivid memory. As all baseball fans know, the Yankees lost that series to the underdog Diamondbacks on a walk off single by Luis Gonzalez off Mariano Rivera.
Fast forward 15 years, and the most recent iteration of the Yankees is almost unrecognizable. Throughout my childhood, and even through my teen years, I always saw the Yankees as the evil empire. To me, George Steinbrenner always went out and bought whatever players he wanted, creating a truly elite team every single year. Even following his death in 2010, the Yankees have employed a similar strategy.
Only recently were the Yankees surpassed by the Los Angeles Dodgers as the team with the highest payroll. Even so, the Yankees still sit at No. 2 according to the most recent figures for next season, approximately $37 million behind those same Dodgers. On the current roster, there are still plenty of monstrous contracts throughout, with some being good, and some being bad.
I know, I know, “get to the point already.”
Well here’s that point: this New York Yankees team is like no other Yankee team I have ever seen in my lifetime. That philosophy espoused by Steinbrenner all the way until his death seems like a distant memory now. No longer are these the free agent spenders of yesteryear.
Of all the teams in baseball, the New York Yankees are the only team to not sign any major (or minor for that matter) free agents this offseason. Yeah, you heard that right. The New York Yankees did not sign a single player this offseason.
Now to be fair, the Yankees did make a couple of key trades, acquiring Starlin Castro, Aroldis Chapman, and Aaron Hicks, but they did not spend a single dollar on the free agent market. In all my years of watching baseball, I never thought I would see a year in which the Yankees chose to not spend at all.
Despite the shock and awe of the Yankees not being spenders on the free agent market, especially with such a strong free agent class, the Yankees strategy makes a lot of logical sense. For a team that always willingly spent as much as possible to win, taking a different strategy this offseason makes quite a bit of sense.
With the luxury tax threshold currently sitting at $189 million, where it will stay through at least 2016, the Yankees paid $26.1 million in luxury tax just last season. While the Yankees will once again be over in 2016, it appears the team is making the effort to curb their spending, at least to an extent.
With many large contracts coming off the books in the next several years, including Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia, Carlos Beltran, among a few others, the Yankees could realistically get under the luxury tax threshold in the next several years. And it seems like that is the plan at this point. With only $130 million currently on the payroll for 2017, and $100 million for 2018, the Yankees should be in a great position financially in the immediate future.
The Yankees have made it clear this offseason that they are still serious about competing, even if they aren’t spending big on free agents as they have in years past. The team still increased payroll for 2016, and looks to be in a good position for another postseason run next season. More importantly from a financial standpoint, the Yankees look to be in a good position for the greatest free agent class in baseball history in 2018, when Bryce Harper will be available.
It is a little too early to make any predictions, but Bryce Harper would look awfully good in Yankee pinstripes for Yankee fans. It may take $400 million to get a deal done, but the Yankees can most certainly afford it if they continue down their current path. The frugal New York Yankees. Who would have thought?