Yankees Free Agency: Echoes of the 08-09 offseason

Andy Marlin

Missing the playoffs is apparently just the inspiration needed for the Yankees to go on a spending spree. Whether or not the results can be replicated is a whole other matter.

It seems this newer Yankees regime isn't that different from the reign of George Steinbrenner that preceded it. After a frugal 2012 offseason, it appeared that maybe the days of the Yankees throwing trucks of money at players had passed. "Plan 189" and rumors of Hal Steinbrenner's "fiscal conservatism" seemed like the end of an era, allowing the Los Angeles Dodgers to take the crown as the biggest spenders in the rich kids' club. But boy, what a difference a crummy season makes. Just like the last time the team stayed home during October in 2008, the Yankees have decided to fix their roster deficiencies that left them out of the postseason by signing several of the best (and priciest) free agents on the market. It's not the most clever or creative way to rebuild the team into a champion,but it's hard to argue with the past results.

In the two offseasons noted, the Yankees cornered the market on the best free agents. In both years they nabbed 3 of the top five free agents according to MLB Trade Rumors, and at least four of the top 20.

2009

Name

Rank

Max Deal

CC Sabathia

1st

7/161

Mark Teixeira

2nd

8/180

AJ Burnett

5th

5/82.5

Andy Pettitte

16th

1/11.75

2014

Name

Rank

Max Deal

Jacoby Ellsbury

2nd

7/153

Brian McCann

4th

6/100

Masahiro Tanaka

5th

7/155

Hiroki Kuroda

8th

1/16

Carlos Beltran

12th

3/45

That's over $400 million in deals before the 2009 season and over $500 million thus far in 2014. Seeing all the money down in one spot really drives the point home: the Yankees do not like losing. And a quick solution to rekindling excitement in your fanbase after a tough season is bringing in new and talented players, (and bringing back a select few) on-field performance aside.

Obviously it's hard to say if this year's bonanza can yield the same results as the one in 2009. The vast majority of the innings pitched and at bats taken are going to be from players that were not just inked to contracts, and the core of this current team is simply not as good. The best players on the team are probably the ones they just signed, which wasn't necessarily the case in '09. But when you don't have a lot of trade assets or prospects ready to contribute, breaking out the wallet is really the only way to get back to being a contender. That or hope you get really lucky.

Most importantly, as a fan I truly appreciate that the Yankees brass have responded to the ugly season in 2013 with an aggressive and successful offseason. 2008 was disappointing, but it was nowhere near the unwatchable mess that 2013 seemed to be at times. Just for the purpose of enjoying Yankees games, this offseason has been a much-needed fresh coat of paint. Obviously a model of good drafting and player development would be a more tenable method for bouncing back from missing the playoffs, but you work with what you have. Hopefully patching the cracks in the dam with wads of cash will be as smart a play this year as it was five years ago.

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