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The Yankees can handle a big contract just fine

The Bombers are more than equipped to handle things if a big contract goes bad.

World Series - Boston Red Sox v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game Four Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

The upside to the Yankees signing Manny Machado is obvious. He is an excellent player, and he could help them to a World Series championship. He’s also fairly young for someone entering free agency.

The downside is that every 10-year deal, which is around the range it would probably take to get him, has some amount of risk to it. While at 26 years old, Machado will theoretically be in his prime for a larger portion of the contact, deals that long could always end up backfiring.

The main rallying cry for people against a potential Machado signing is that by the end of the deal, he will be bad, and his contract could hamstring the team. There are also those against him for his hustle comments, but that’s another story for another day.

There are potential consequences for a Machado deal should it go wrong. Those consequences, however, shouldn’t be that worrying.

On the one hand, the Yankees could just straight up afford that deal no matter how it turns out. They also could afford any acquired players or contracts they take on trying to cover up a busted big contract. Sure they probably wouldn’t like going into the luxury tax for bad deals, but for a team with their revenue and status, it’s more that doable. Also, the luxury tax isn’t as big a deal as it’s made out to be.

Beyond that, we’ve literally seen one of these periods in recent memory where the Yankees were “hamstrung” by long-term contracts. The Yankees still competed late into the year all through that period. Right around 2013 is when the Yankees concern with trying to get under the luxury tax began. It’s also when some of the long-term deals on the books started to look a little bad.

Alex Rodriguez began the 2013 season on the DL, and he turned 38 during the season. He was also facing suspension and would sit out the entire 2014 season. CC Sabathia had re-worked his deal after 2011, and he put up a below average ERA for the first time in his career in 2013. The next two seasons weren’t much better, and he started dealing with injuries. Mark Teixeira spent most of 2013 hurt. A.J. Burnett’s contract was technically still going even as he was on the Pirates.

All of that converging was probably a large part of the reason Robinson Cano was not re-signed after that season. While the Yankees did spend in that offseason, none of the contracts were on the level of Cano, or what is speculated for Machado. Only Jacoby Ellsbury and Masahiro Tanaka’s deals are still on the books.

In general from 2013-16, the Yankees’ main stated aim seemed to be to not give out giant deals in an attempt to get under the luxury tax. They had a winning record all through that, and made the playoffs in 2015. The worst season in that run was finishing seven games back of the Wild Card in 2013. While no one would argue that was the most fun period in Yankees’ history, it’s a perfect blueprint for how to deal with having long, big contracts on the books.

In that stretch, the Yankees made up for any deficiencies with little moves. Think trading a lottery ticket prospect for Alfonso Soriano in 2013; turning a two good months of Yangervis Solarte into a couple solid seasons of Chase Headley; bringing in Hiroki Kuroda; building a great bullpen, with Dellin Betances, David Robertson, and then later Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman.

Beyond all that, the Yankees still ended up getting some good years out of the supposed bad contracts during that period. Teixeira was an All-Star in 2015, and Rodriguez probably should have been. Sabathia turned things around and is still on the team. Eventually they decided to pull the plug on that whole era in 2016, and managed to build a whole new contending team in basically one trade deadline.

While he seems more equipped than others to live up to a 10-year deal, it’s of course possible that the last couple years of a Machado contract turn out poorly. The Yankees could cover that up if they want, and Brian Cashman has showed the aptitude to pull it off. Don’t worry about 10 years from now when the Yankees are very close right now.