The Yankees actually attempted to sign a major league free agent this offseason, but the deal fell through. According to the New York Post, a deal was in place with pitcher Tommy Hunter before he failed his physical to make the deal official. The deal would have been for two years and somewhere between $11.5 and $12 million, according to Joel Sherman.
Hunter needed surgery twice this offseason with the most recent coming on January 7. Both of those surgeries were to repair injuries to his core, but Sherman speculates that there might have been concerns about his arm as well. The Indians ultimately signed Hunter to a one-year deal for $2 million last week.
Signing Hunter would have given the Yankees more of a veteran option to provide middle relief between starters and the formidable trio of Dellin Betances, Aroldis Chapman, and Andrew Miller. The options for that job are mainly prospects like Jacob Lindgren, James Pazos, Nick Rumbelow, and company right now. Only Pazos really stood out during his 2015 audition.
It's a bit frustrating that the team has failed to sign any big league free agents this offseason, and the one they almost signed wasn't healthy enough to complete the deal. However, it's hard to imagine that Hunter would have been worth the deal that the Yankees were offering. It is pretty similar to the deal that Tyler Clippard signed with the Diamondbacks.
Perhaps Hunter failing his physical was a blessing in disguise to keep the Yankees from making a poor deal. Unfortunately it doesn't repair the fact that it has been an entire year sign the team inked a deal with a big league player. Hopefully the methodology of trading instead of pursuing the free agent market will pay off.