Running a baseball team feels in a lot of ways like one big shell game. Uses of deception and sleight of hand are all par for the course as executives, agents and even players try to leverage uncertainty and doubt into better deals for their clubs, clients or themselves. Rumors are fed to reporters chomping at the bit to report anything of even the most remote interest, creating a cloudy picture of what these teams are actually planning on doing. For a long time trying to get the picture of what the New York Yankees were planning was to just pick out the biggest free agents with the largest expected price tag and label them as likely future Yankees. Even with the Yankees' comparative frugality these days, Max Scherzer and Hanley Ramirez (both recipients of $100+ million contracts) were predicted to go to the Yankees by MLB Trade Rumors.
Of course, that never happened and the only group that seemed 100 percent convinced that they would not be going after Scherzer was the Yankees themselves. Any time it was floated to "watch out" for the Yankees eventual involvement, nothing ever came of it. Randy Levine came out pretty early and said that the numbers being floated by agent Scott Boras were going to be too rich for the Yankees and that turned out to be the case. You wonder if Boras even has the Yankees on speed dial anymore since he seems more than capable of wringing a record-setting deals out of teams without the benefit of a whale like the Yankees being in the mix. Brian Cashman has been similarly honest when discussing the pursuit of the team's own free agents, like David Robertson and Brandon McCarthy, revealing that the team wanted the players back but at prices the team would dictate. Sure enough, Robertson never even received an actual offer from the team and they never tried to match the four year offer that McCarthy inked with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Chase Headley even had to take less money to stay with the team.
So is this all part of some sort of strategy by the Yankees' front office? A policy of total transparency when it comes to these negotiations? It all seems kind of peculiar for a team that employs a general manager who we jokingly refer to as a "ninja" to do things in this manner, but it seems like the knockdown, drag out negotiations that were a staple of George Steinbrenner's regime are a thing of the past. They're going to seemingly blow the doors off of players like Jacoby Ellsbury but draw a hardline for players they might not want as much. And they're going to be very rigid.
I'm not sure if any of this is good or bad, and the pursuit of Cuban superstar Yoan Moncada might give us even more insight into this newer, more forthright Yankees brain trust. Since the Yankees are, in fact, rumored to be involved in the race for Moncada, It seems like it will be a bidding war between teams with unconscionable amounts of capital at their disposal. They might want to hold their cards a little closer in this case.