Since the beginning of the 2013 season, and even before that, the Yankees have tossed around this somewhat unheard of notion regarding keeping under a $189 million payroll for the upcoming offseason. Plan 189, as it was called, was to be a change in the direction of the Yankees' usual tactics of paying top dollar for free agents or taking on expensive, salary dump trades. Well, here we are about to enter the winter meetings, and Plan 189 is now in question.
Last week, the Yankees signed Brian McCann to a five year, $85 million dollar contract. McCann was one of the best catchers on the market, if not the best. After dealing with a season of Chris Stewart, few people were surprised that the Yankees wanted to upgrade. Even though the years and money given to McCann could be considered questionable, Plan 189 was still somewhat in play. Earlier today, the Yankees announced that McCann passed all his physicals and that a press conference would be held on Thursday to welcome him to his new home in the Bronx. Hal Steinbrenner then boldly stated that they "were just getting started." It seems like he was not kidding.
Yesterday the Yankees stunned the baseball world and signed Jacoby Ellsbury, the now former Boston Red Sox outfielder, to a massive seven-year, $153 million contract. This out of the blue signing puts into question if the Yankees still have any plans to follow through with Plan 189. For starters, they still need a starting pitcher or two. More importantly, Robinson Cano is still a free agent and the Yankees seem to be holding firm that they are not going to outbid themselves for him like the have in the past.
To talk about how this affects Plan 189 means you have to talk about what kind of player they just signed. Jacoby Ellsbury, when healthy, is a very fast, decent, all around good player who can thrive in the Bronx. That is not the issue with this deal. What matters the most is that Ellsbury was the most expensive outfield option on the market. They could have signed Shin-Soo Choo for fewer years. They could've given Carlos Beltran a three-year, or even a four-year deal, and it would still cost less for fewer years. They still might. After this deal, everything and anything is on the table.
For now though, the Yankees followed their usual, before Plan 189 M.O. and signed one of the most expensive players on the market to mega-contract. This contract comes only a week after signing Brian McCann and several weeks after giving Derek Jeter a raise. They claim to be holding firm on Robinson Cano, and yet here they are with Ellsbury soon to be in pinstripes. These are the "If the boss were here" Yankees coming into play. It could be that the last offseason, followed by a regular season of Chris Stewart, Vernon Wells, and pick-a-third-baseman on the field for the Yankees seriously derailed any thoughts of Plan 189. This most certainly sounds like the big spending Evil Empire the majority of us have grown up with these past two decades. These are the types of moves that fully attempt to show the fans and rest of baseball that the 2013 Yankees, with whom many think flushed away the season to save some money, are gone.
Plan 189 still could be in play, though. Even if they give Cano the mega contract he's expected to get, the Yankees might have more moves in the works to help get the payroll under $189 million for 2014. There's also the Alex Rodriguez factor to consider. Perhaps the Yankees know something the rest of us don't know about his possible suspension. There will always be information that we are not privy to. Actions tend to speak louder than words, though, and these past two weeks have come with a thunderous boom that the Yankees are ready, willing, and able to do what they tend to do best: put a championship caliber team on the field.
The offseason is still young though.
- Yankees sign Jacoby Ellsbury to seven-year deal worth $153 million
- Yankees and Jacoby Ellsbury reportedly closing in on seven-year deal
- Yankees make offers to Omar Infante, Jacoby Ellsbury, Shin-Soo Choo, Carlos Beltran
- Yankees trade rumors: Brett Anderson drawing interest from New York
- Carlos Beltran rumors: Mystery team has offered three-year deal worth $48 million