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Yankees Potential 1975 Free Agent Target: Catfish Hunter

Will the Yankees mark their first ever foray into Free Agency by signing the reigning Cy Young Award winner?

1974 Statistics: 318.1 IP, 25-12 W-L, 2.49 ERA, 143 SO

1975 Age: 29

Position: Starting pitcher

After yet another season with the Yankees missing the playoffs made all the worse by doing it in the Mets home stadium, the franchise could use an infusion of excitement and talent. With the dust having settled in the battle over player contracts and free agency a possibility, the Yankees don't just have to rely on their own players to get them back to the postseason: they can snatch them away from their rival franchises. In an opportunity reminiscent of the purchasing of one Babe Ruth, the Yankees can obtain the services of Cy Young winner Catfish Hunter without giving the Athletics even a paltry sum.

Hunter is coming off one the best seasons for a pitcher in recent memory, and thanks to the skin flint ways of owner Charlie Finley who violated Hunter's contract by not handling an annuity properly the star pitcher is available to the highest bidder. Since wins and awards are the best way to judge a pitcher's worth, there is no player more worthy of a massive contract than Hunter. Some nerd that claimed he came from the future mentioned something about WAR, but he was quickly locked up. His ERA is just so damn fabulous. If green owner George M. Steinbrenner is truly committed to returning the franchise to its former glory, this might be the first step.

With ace Pat Dobson in tow, the Yankees could have one of the more formidable rotations in baseball if they added Hunter. With burgeoning talents like Chris Chambliss and Thurman Munson in the fold, the Yankees should have enough offense to push them past their 89 wins and to a playoff spot with one more premier pitcher. Hunter's resume and gravitas could do wonders for what has been a moribund franchise over the past decade and change. He's a champion and a workhorse.

There is the question of morality, though. Should one man make so much money. Early reports have Hunter possibly commanding a bonus in the high six digits; perhaps even one million dollars! Even though that sounds preposterous, with baseball becoming the Wild West in regards to players having the audacity to choose where they work the impossible may become the norm.

If Steinbrenner is truly committed to being a better owner than his CBS forbears, he might want to shell out the money to sign the best pitcher in the sport. It's hard to justify to the common person that a man that plays a game for a loving is worth one million dollars, but this is the crazy world we live in. The Yankees may have to spend to return this team to some measure of glory. But I sincerely hope it's the last time they ever have to kowtow to a player with a massive contract. It's unbecoming the greatest franchise in sports.