The past, present and future of the greatest franchise in the history of professional sports.

Yanks Rebuilding and Reloading At The Same Time?

Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter share a laugh on Bernie Williams Day

Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter share a laugh on Bernie Williams Day


In the not too distant past, the battleship New York Yankees would never turn around and head back to dry dock so things that needed fixin’ could be fixed. It simply kept steaming ahead, adding more big guns and eager conscripts along the way whenever they could, at any cost — budget or farm talent be damned.
The concept of retreating (i.e., rebuilding) was never in the vocabulary. Hell, make that ‘never in the DNA.’ Tino’s done? No sweat, let’s get Giambi. The Giambino is finished? Hey, let’s snag Teixeira. But in reality, it didn’t work over the long haul. If the mindless mantra that ‘the Yankees buy championships’ had even a shred of sanity or truth, the Bombers would have swept the first decade of the new century. It would have been the 1950s all over again.
But a few things happened over a relatively short period of time that would change the game — on and off the field — and the way the Yankees would do business. The first was that clubs began tying up their most promising young talent earlier than ever — guys only the big spenders would be able to afford if they hit the open market. Case in point follows.

It didn’t sink in at time, but in 2012 when the Kansas City Royals gave their then 21-year old catcher Salvador Peña a 5-year extension (for ‘only’ $7M with three club options, no less! — which he is now regretting — also see: ‘The tale of Salvador Perez and his bargain-basement deal‘ by Jeff Passan/Yahoo! Sports), but this was becoming the new normal in organizational approaches. I had fleeting thoughts about Peña as a young backstop the Yankees could consider, but that would quickly no longer be possible.

Another thing was the passing of the torch in the Steinbrenner family from The Boss to the siblings, coincided with an overdue re-dedication to developing homegrown talent, not to mention the pure evil luxury tax bloodbath the organization was taking in the shorts — which was almost equal to other team’s entire payroll. But that wouldn’t happen overnight and we are talking about the New York Yankees, where a string of 90 loss seasons was just not going to happen. This is The Big Apple, where patience for losing is brutally short.

There are basically two schools of thought in Yankee-fan land. One is to keep reloading and spend Hal’s money like a drunken sailor, the other is to stop the bloated contracts for free agent superstars who’ve had their best years in other places. The refusal to budge on the team’s offer to re-sign Robinson Cano in 2013 was the first indication that times were changing. Stung by long term deals with diminishing returns such as A-Rod‘s and the oft-injured Mark Teixeira‘s, the organization has stayed out of the top-tier free agent sweepstakes, and most importantly resisted moving any of the top prospects, including Luis Severino, Greg Bird, Aaron Judge and others.
While this does not sound like the Yankees, there is a line of thinking that the club will continue to stay out of the big-name free agent market, let the 4 remaining monster contracts (CC Sabathia, A-Rod, Tex and catcher Brian McCann) come off the books over 2016 and 2017, while allowing the young players to jell — basically building a new version of ‘the Core Four’. Then, add a few veteran players in their prime from the 2018 free agent market — which reads like an All-Star lineup — much like the Yankees did in the mid-1990s. After those contracts expire, the club’s payroll will be in the $50M dollar range, which is astounding in itself.
The question is how the fan base will accept a couple of lean seasons in the meanwhile if that turns out to be the case. If they’re not challenging for a post-season slot — game attendance, television and radio audience numbers will be down. Something we haven’t seen in a generation. Buckle up, it’s going to be an interesting ride.
(Core Four Photo Credit: Arturo Pardavila III)

Hot Stove Headlines

‘No Go’ On Nova? If the rumblings about the Yankees not being able to move Ivan Nova are true, Brendan Kuty ( speculates as to why: 5 reasons Yankees may have trouble trading Ivan Nova

Cubs Whack Brendan Ryan! That didn’t take long. The defensive wizard and stellar bullpen arm was the PTNL in the Starling Castro trade, and released yesterday.

Roster Moves! The club signed one-time Mets top prospect Cesar Puello, who rocketed through the low minors but seemed to stall out at A-ball level, writes Steve Sypa at Amazin’ Avenue on SB Nation … Also see ‘Yankees add five more on minor league deals (including reliever Pestano)‘ by Chad Jennings at LoHud. Thew minor league free agents include catcher Sebastian Valle, IN/OF utility man Jose Rosario, southpaw starter Richard Bleier, and outfielder Juan Silva.
MEMORY LANE : On today’s date in 2002 the Yankees inked Cuban defector Jose Contreras to a 4-year/$32M contract. Although he helped the club to the American League pennant in 2003, the talented right-hander never reached expectations in New York and was traded to the Chicago White Sox. Sure enough, he pitched brilliantly for Chicago, leading them a World Series championship in 2004 … (h/t:, Today in Baseball History)


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