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The Yankees, the Winter Meetings, and a look at their playoff chances

The Yankees can be frugal because they can make the playoffs without doing anything else. This does not mean they should.

MLB: Winter Meetings
“Excuse me, sir. SIR. Who are you and how are you relevant to the New York Yankees?”
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Patrick Corbin is headed to the Washington Nationals because the Yankees did not feel he was worth six years and $141 million. You know what? That’s okay. It’s still very early in the offseason. The 2018 Winter Meetings are here, so there’s still time for the Yankees to shock us all with a shocking trade or FA signing. Furthermore, the Yankees don’t need Patrick Corbin to make the playoffs. Honestly, they probably don’t even need Manny Machado, Bryce Harper or another pitcher.

This is not to say they shouldn’t sign Manny Machado, Bryce Harper, and trade for Corey Kluber. They should do all of that simply because I want them too. It’s the least they could do for starting Chris Stewart at catcher in 2013. Long time readers should know how little I give a bunt about how much Hal and Hank Steinbrenner spend. For you new readers out there, let it be known that I 100% wanted them to match Seattle’s 10-year offer for Robinson Cano.

Now that we’ve established my splendorous use of the Steinbrenner’s cash, I’m actually going to offer a counterpoint to my usual argument of “throw Hal’s money away” when it comes to free agency. Why should they? More to the point, does any Yankee fan actually think the Yankees are not going to make the playoffs next year if the offseason ended today?

The Seattle Mariners are doing a complete overhaul, and the Yankees have already reaped the Big Maple benefits. Cleveland is looking to trade a Corey Kluber and/or Trevor Bauer because they know they can probably win the division without one/both of them. That’s two American League teams potentially making an effort to get worse, and who knows what the Winter Meetings will yield for the rest of the division.

As of right now, it looks like the Yankees’ competition for the playoffs will be the exact same five teams. The Yankees won 100 games last year. They’ve added James Paxton, and he will undoubtedly slide into Sonny Gray’s slot. They will be without Sir Didi Gregorius for a good amount of time. Barring the unforeseen, they’re still going to make the playoffs. Congrats, Yankees. Get the champagne chilled.

This whole thing takes the Moneyball movie mantra of “not buying players, but buying wins” to a whole other level. Hal Steinbrenner wants to remain under the luxury tax because he believes the Yankees can field a championship caliber team without going over it. Hal’s not wrong, and it sucks bunts that he’s not. The Yankees don’t have to spend because almost two-thirds of the AL is not going to be good enough where they need to. The “wins” have been not only purchased, but continue to be presented to them in a Nachosaurus.

Steinbrenner has said before that he’d be more than willing to go over the luxury tax if he feels they cannot field a championship-caliber team. With the way the American League is shaping up, he has one that can make it to the postseason. Whether or not they can beat the other three or four teams in their way is another matter all together. In the end, it comes down to how much they value talent versus “who’s hot and who’s not” when October rolls around.

As I stated earlier, I want the Yankees to trade for Corey Kluber and sign Manny Machado and/or Bryce Harper. Do I think that they need to in order to make the playoffs again? Not at all. Do I think that they need to in order to win a World Series ring? Honestly, no. I lean more towards the latter “who’s hot and who’s not” mantra when it comes to October baseball. That still doesn’t make their potential lack of offseason moves any less frustrating.

The Yankees should use every means in their power to put together the best possible team that they can for 2019. If that means going over the luxury tax, so bunting be it. I don’t care about players being paid a lot of money. I don’t care about an extra year or two of service 8-10 years from now. More teams could decide to tank and rebuild 8-10 years from now and the Yankees could still potentially make the playoffs with an “aging” Machado or Harper saddled on their backs, like they did in 2015.

Bottom line, just because you can be lackadaisical, watch other teams tank and still make the playoffs that doesn’t excuse your frugality, Hal. You can easily cross that cash threshold, outspend everyone, and still profit. So return to your evil ways. Get extravagant. Be the rich juggernaut we love and others hate. Build me a pinstriped army worthy of Mordor!

And try to not do it on Christmas, please. Bloggers do have lives outside of their blogs.*

*no we don’t