The Yankees recently signed J.A. Happ to a two-year deal with a vesting option, which is fine. Meh, but fine. There’s nothing wrong with this deal, even if it is not a trade for Noah Syndergaard or Corey Kluber. If Happ provides the same level of service as he did during his brief stint in pinstripes last year, he will help bolster a pitching staff that clearly needed bolstering.
This article has little to do with the signing of J.A. Happ, but rather it just being “meh.” Make no mistake, this was not a big splash signing. More like a slow walk into the pool. Again, this is fine. Brian Cashman does not always have to strut his stuff on the diving board. It’s also early in the offseason. There’s still plenty of time to dive into the deep end of the free agency pool and come up with a Manny Machado perhaps.
Of course, there are fans out there who don’t want a Bryce Harper or Manny Machado for reasons. The majority of those reasons stem from attitude to cost. Personally I care more about talent than any of those things, but that’s me. Let’s not kid ourselves though. They will cost a lot and have many years attached to their contract, and fans do care about this.
As always, I just tend to focus on why fans care, because that’s my job. That’s what I was originally hired on to do, and I am a blogger of my word. I’ve written about this before and I’ll undoubtedly write about it again. So why am I bringing up the J.A. Happ trade? Mainly for this tweet from Athletic writer Lindsey Adler.
From the Yankees:— Lindsey Adler (@lindseyadler) December 17, 2018
"Happ becomes the first free agent starting pitcher signed to a multi-year contract by the Yankees since A.J. Burnett and CC Sabathia both signed on December 18, 2008 (Masahiro Tanaka was signed in 2014 via the Japanese posting system)."
I could go more into this, but thankfully former PSA scribe Harlan Spence wrote a great FanPost recently, with a paragraph that perfectly highlights my thoughts on the matter.
Since the 2008-09 offseason, when the Yankees brought the house down with CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and A.J. Burnett, they’ve signed just one top-of-the-market, much-in-demand free agent...Masahiro Tanaka in 2013. If you want to include Jacoby Ellsbury, I guess you can, but we all know he was a consolation prize after a lowball bid sent Robinson Cano packing for Seattle. In the meantime, some pretty staggering names have changed teams via free agency with the Yankees sitting either on the outskirts or out of it altogether. You can make a case that Scherzer, or Zack Greinke, or one of many others was just not their cup of tea, but none of them? Really? For ten years?
It’s no mystery why owners do this. Saving money and having more power over players is absolutely their goal, because they are greedy jerkstores. No one should be shocked by this. What is shocking is how many fans are okay with it.
More and more fans are becoming okay with the Yankees just letting free agent after free agent pass them by, using the same rhetoric that the front office and their talking head sports radio show host machine spew. It’s possible that the allure of building from within has deluded fans into thinking that it’s the proper way to build a dynasty, despite the Yankees’ actual history proving otherwise. I have another theory though:
Yankee fans hate being disappointed more than they actually enjoy winning.
One only needs to look at how a lot of fans view the CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, and A.J. Burnett signings. Fans tend to view those as bad deals because, and again I’m not making this up, the Yankees only won a singular World Series Championship instead of several. Those FA signings did not lead to a dynasty and then the Yankees were saddled with some of those contracts during the “we only finished above .500 and competed into the month of September every year” dark times.
The doldrums of the 2013-2016 Yankees saw a team that was not dominant, but just simply good. Just being good is no longer good enough. Being good is disappointing, because they’re the Yankees and they should always be top of the heap and king of the hill. So many fans have this idea that the Yankees should either be the best or just not try at all. The middle ground is, apparently, unbearable.
Even this season was a perfect example of just that. So many Twitter threads, Slack chats, and PSA comments from fans who just seemed to take little to no joy that the Yankees were on pace for a 100-win season and were going to make the playoffs. They were only second best in the division and third best in the American League though. They just made it in due to the Wild Card. Horrors.
Now here we are and the argument is still being made that the Yankees shouldn’t sign free agents like Patrick Corbin, Machado, or Harper. Players are no longer worth long deals because the disappointment of the later years is somehow more important than the potential they bring the current team. This was the argument for passing on Max Scherzer and Robinson Cano.
There are fans who even lamented that Brian Cashman traded for Giancarlo Stanton. To be clear, that’s 2017 NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton, whom the Yankees got for practically nothing. Stanton is paid a lot of money though, so there are always going to be fans who hate him and are constantly disappointed with him no matter how many baseballs he destroys.
I’ve often said that fans who do not want players like Cano deserve players like Stephen Drew and I still hold true to that. As disappointing as Drew was, at least he was not being paid like Cano was, right? At least he hustled out of the box. Honestly, despite my quick Cano rant, this has less to do with my bitterness over not signing Cano and more about my anger over not signing Max Scherzer when they had the chance. I’m not over it.
Not going after the best free agents on the market because of things like Plan 189, and now Plan 197, just drive me nuts. It amazes me that more Yankee fans aren’t upset about this. Yankee fans use to rail on the owners for being cheap. Now? A simple “meh.” People look at the 2013-2016 years as being bad. I dunno, perhaps having a Scherzer and Cano on the team actually help with that. But that’s then and this is now.
There are excellent free agents on the market right now, and I have little faith that the Yankees will make them a competitive offer due to the past ten years of examples. What makes this so hilarious is that this was the year of free agency that they were supposed to be saving for. Well, we’ll see what happens. I’ll just say that I’m more than prepared to be disappointed. Prove me wrong, Cashman.
On the other hand, I will take some solace in the fact that I will never be as disappointed as fans expecting a new dynasty.