The Yankees have, yet again, demonstrated the unpredictability of free agency. After managing to overachieve last year to finish an unremarkable 85-77 the Yanks faced an ultimatum. The "Evil Empire" had two paths to go down, the first being the oft-traveled storm the off-season with barrels of cash approach. The path that the Yankees elected to go down following the 2008 season, which led to a World Series title. Or, the Bombers could have stood pat, watch Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson walk; and see Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Carlos Beltran sign elsewhere. Now the obvious question here is: Why would the Yankees do such a thing?
The answer comes from the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Should the Yankees have watched their Type A players walk, and have signed no other Type A players, in the upcoming Draft the Yankees could be looking at three Round One picks. Predictably the Yankees snatched up top tier free agents. Unpredictably they watched Cano leave to go to Seattle, and Granderson move to Queens. Now with the Draft on the doorstep, and the first two months of baseball completed, the question remains was it worth it?
The three new guys have combined for 140 games thus far, and have a combined 1.3 WAR according to FanGraphs. Around what Yangervis Solarte has managed on his own. Being sent up to the plate for a total of 521 plate appearances so far, the trio have 130 hits, around a .250 batting average. The combined 14 HR's and 61 RBI's don't help the case either. Thus far through the season the signings don't appear to have gone as planned. Now it is early, yes, but when the three will make $283 million combined, being critical is necessary. So looking at projections from FanGraphs, Ellsbury is projected to end up with a triple slash of .279/.342/.409 over 137 games. McCann, the $17 million man, is projected to finish .245/.316/.413 over 132 games. Beltran is projected to have a .253/.311/.459 triple slash over 114 games.
Letting all those numbers sink in won't help when coupled by the consequences of signing these three. The Yankees forfeited their first round draft pick, plus their two compensatory picks from losing Cano and Granderson. (Cano is projected to finish with a triple slash of .308/.365/.445 over 153 games) The first pick for the Yankees is in the second round at number 55 overall. With last years haul of three picks in the first round, another three first round picks would have surely have helped restock their farm system.
The purpose for this critique, isn't to shame the Yankees for their decision. It wasn't the smartest in the long run, but the decision is in the past. Yankee management needs to realize that the real, lasting talent doesn't come externally, rather internally. Hopefully they'll remember that the other road, that was traveled in the 90's, led to not one, but four rings.