The Yankees started the off-season by poaching the first big game, flexing their financial muscles to bring Brian McCann north to New York. It only took 85M plus a vesting option. Does this foretell ripping up the 189M plan? Or is it simply a hedge against Robinson Cano’s departure? Whether its good news or bad news in the long-term, the signing has heralded a welcome focus on how McCann will improve the team rather than an analysis of finances. What would happen if the Yankees continued to put the 2014 team first by embarking on a real, unrestrained Evil Empire spending spree?
It would start with resigning Robinson Cano. Given the lack of impact players on the market ensuring Cano returns will be costly, but 250M over 10 years would make it happen.
Since we really care about World Series Championships and pissing off Red Sox fans, the next step is to entice Jacoby Ellsbury and Stephen Drew to switch sides. Ellsbury is the second best player on the market, plain and simple, and will be paid accordingly. 7 years/140M should do the trick. Drew is the best shortstop available and as a left-handed hitter is ideal to pair with Jeter. He turned down a couple million for more playing opportunity last offseason, but with his injury history, 4 years/ 52M would be very difficult to turn down.
After snagging a couple of Red Sox, it’s time to turn our attention to our own free agents. Age has already got up to Ichiro and may soon catch up to Soriano. It’s unlikely that so many Soriano fly balls will leave park next season after all. So Curtis Granderson would still make a lot of sense. 3 years/ 48M would likely be enough to keep Granderson from returning to the South Side. On the other side of the ball, 22 elite starts are more valuable for a playoff team than 32 good ones and Hiroki Kuroda is the only free agent starter would deserves to get the ball on opening day. Bring him back for another season at 17M, enough to keep him from returning to easier pastures in Japan or the National League.
By the time we wrap up negotiations with those five, negotiations with Japan about a new posting agreement will likely have been finalized. Time to purchase Masahiro Tanaka. It’s going to be a crazy winter, but spending 80M on the posting fee and 6years/80M on the contract should bring the Japanese Champion to New York.
Tanaka and Kuroda will firm up the rotation, but the rotation still has a lot of uncertainty. Which Nova will show up? Will Sabathia rebound? Was Kuroda’s fade last year fatigue or the end of the line? Will Tanaka transition smoothly? Can Phelps and Nuno stay healthy? Will Pineda regain enough arm strength to pitch deep into games? Is Warren good enough to pitch every five days? So adding another starter will help even though the free agent starters all have their own questions. They are also likely to be overpaid, but they are still likely to be an improvement on the Nuno/Phelps/Warren combination so shelling out 75M over 5 years helps make the team better. Pick your own favorite.
Another area of the team with some uncertainty is the bullpen. Rivera and Logan need to be replaced. David Robertson can close and investing in him seems like a good idea. A contract extension will show him that he’s part of the future and save money next year. Houdini, how does 3 years/ 24M sound? Right now the going rate for elite non-closer relievers is 3 years / 15M so two more of them will cost 30M.
What’s left? I Don’t Know. Third base. While we might dream of ‘09 A-Rod manning the hot corner, that’s not happening. Jhonny Peralta just signed with the Cardinals. So do prefer Juan Uribe or Omar Infante? Neither is perfect. Uribe just had a great season after two replacement level seasons and he’s 35. Infante is a second baseman who’s bat has fluctuated between above and below average. With Uribe’s age and history, he’s probably looking for a second year and teams will be reluctant to give it, but a large number of teams will offer one year. 2 years and 20M are required to get it down.
That wraps up the Evil Empire shopping spree. 816 million dollars will do it, although the eventually figure might only be as much as 700 million. The 2014 commitment would be 148M in salaries and 80M in posting fees. So obviously that’s a ridiculous sum of money, both now and especially in the future as free agents age. But you’d feel pretty confident with a Kuroda, Tanaka, Nova, Sabathia, Jimenez rotation backing an Ellsbury, Jeter, Cano, Teixeira, McCann, Granderson, Drew, Uribe, Gardner lineup. Magic Johnson and his ownership team were willing to pay 800 million more than expected to purchase the Dodgers. Maybe the Steinbrenners will spend 800 million to win some more championships.