A year ago had you told anyone who follows major league baseball that the New York Yankees would be relative non-factors in the Bryce Harper/Manny Machado sweepstakes they would’ve called you insane. Barring a World Series win, the perennial “Evil Empire” is notorious for throwing mega-millions at pre-established stars. And whether or not the Yanks needed a SS/3B or corner Outfielder, they’ve never been ones to shy away from superstar gluttony. Hell, tons of people in the know flat out predicted that the Bronx Bombers could open 2019 with both of them on the roster and an ace pitcher like Jacob DeGrom added to the mix via trade.
But none of that happened…
GM Brian Cashman shut down any perceived notion that Bryce Harper would join the franchise all the way back in November. He toyed with the idea of a trade for ace-caliber arm Noah Syndergaard but passed when the asking price included his prized prospects. With Manny Machado, he briefly engaged in talks to lure him to New York, but turned a cold shoulder when the former-Oriole insisted on getting “Stanton money”. Yet somehow with the Yankees no-showing the superstar market this winter, they somehow have managed to still pull away as winners in the grad scheme of things.
Over the course of the past 5 years, Cashman has been hard at work stockpiling young assets and high-potential prospects. He’s gotten bargain deals for aging veterans and rebuilt the Yankees’ organization from top to bottom in seemingly record time. And though the 2018 season will be deemed a tragic failure by the 27-time World Series Champs’ impossible standards, it did have some major bright spots as the strong farm system Cashman had worked for, continued to bear fruit.
2016 saw the breakout campaign for slugging-backstop Gary Sanchez. 2017 was all about Aaron Judge’s phenomenal power, Luis Severino’s dynamite arm, and Didi Gregorious assuming the mantle of star shortstop. And now in 2018 we saw the duo of Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar contend for the Rookie of the Year Award.
So the Yankees’ unwillingness to engage with superstars foreign to their farm system (Giancarlo Stanton excluded) shouldn’t be deemed as a failure, or even as a mark of luxury tax avoidance. This is more about investing in the future than anything else. The Yankees believe in their young core, possibly to a fault given the 7-year extension that they just dealt to 36 year old CF, Aaron Hicks. So by not over-extending themselves in massive deals to the likes of Harper and Machado, they’re essentially guaranteeing themselves the opportunity to pay all of their homegrown stars in the immediate future.
Eventually Cashman is going to have to make Aaron Judge the highest paid player in history when he becomes eligible for free agency, or risk having him jump ship to another team that wouldn’t hesitate to pull the trigger. Guys like Gary, Gleyber, and Miggy are going to demand massive money too. And after dishing out deals to Sevy and Hicks, next on the list has to be Didi.
So perhaps the casual fan of the Bombers will be disappointed in their passiveness on the open market, but in reality they’ll be thankful when they see the Yankees be aggressive in locking down their homegrown market soon enough…