By now, the Yankees front office has established their course of action for the next few years. Nobody quite believed them at first, and rightfully so, but the plan to get the payroll under $189 million in 2014 to avoid the luxury tax is really happening. It's the only way they could justify the significant downgrades they made to the team for this year and next, at least from a fan's perspective. So we have to sit there and watch Randy Levine continuously usurp his general manager by making trades and signings that would have made more sense a decade ago, but by 2015 their luxury tax will have reset to zero and they can spend freely on quality players. Right? Please?
The plan seems just fine until we rev up the DeLorean to 88 miles per hour and take a look at the underwhelming free agent class of 2015. Major League teams have trended towards locking up star players into their late prime while they're young and relatively cheaper. The result is free agent lists that are perennially chock full of players past their prime, injury prone, or were never that good to begin with. There's arguably not one player on that list that a team should be relying upon heavily to produce in 2015. The problem is, if they want to be competitive, the Yankees will need to add multiple players that can produce two years from now. When it comes to timing, it's safe to say that Randy and friends chose poorly.
With little to no free agency help coming, wouldn't it be nice if the Yankees could rely on some young, developed talent a couple years from now? Sure it would, but this golden opportunity for the farmhands to grow up is being wasted. With playoff hopes fading this season and most likely into next, the front office should be taking good, long looks at prospects that could fill major roles by 2015. Instead, they've acquired the likes of Ichiro Suzuki, Vernon Wells, Chris Stewart, Alfonso Soriano, etc. All aging players who are in the lineup everyday providing marginal value at best. Just like the old days, it's clear that prospects will only be developed until they're a tradable asset that can be flipped for a player that broke in when he was in diapers.
Due to their own mistakes, the Yankees future options are few and far between. They can start by retaining Robinson Cano at all costs, since they won't find a better player on the open market, and convincing Brett Gardner to sign an extension. After that, they can pray to the Great Bambino above that injuries continue to pile up to the point that they have no choice but to try out the young bucks and some rise to the top. Not exactly reassuring, but barring any drastic philosophical changes within the organization over the next few months, that's about the best they can do.