Cashman, Yankees miss out on another firesale
The Yankees have used their financial might to help them field the most successful team in MLB from 1995-2012. They routinely have the highest payroll in baseball and have seen their annual payroll more than double from the late 90s to today. For years they were able to retain any of their own players they chose and to go after the best Free Agents every year. However, one area where they haven’t been successful in taking advantage of their financial muscle is in the trade market. There have been many fire-sales over the last decade but the Yankees haven’t really participated.
The latest such example is the massive dump going on in Miami. Toronto received 3 valuable pieces in this deal, commodities that are not easy to find when building a MLB team. In Jose Reyes they got a switch-hitting SS and lead-off hitter in his prime who is signed for the next 5 years. Reyes is perhaps the best SS in MLB and one of the game’s most exciting players. In Josh Johnson, they get a 28-yr old starter with Ace pedigree & potential. He is only signed for 1 year but it gives Toronto a chance to see if he can return to his pre-injury form when he was 29-12 with a 2.64 era & 1.11 whip from 2009-2011. The 3rd piece of the deal is a consistent, inning-eating lefty starter in Mark Buehrle who has 12 straight seasons of 200 ip. He’s a proven winner in the A.L. and still going strong at 33 yrs old.
Any and all of these players would be valuable to the current Yankees but they are handcuffed by their self-imposed new budget that doesn’t allow them to take on anymore money for 2014 and beyond. I don’t know if these 3 players can turn a team like Toronto into a playoff team but they would have been a great addition to a contending team like the Yankees. Two of Florida’s previous fire-sales netted serious gains for their trade partners.
Marlin Fire-Sales in 2005 & 2007 shifted power in A.L.
In 2005, the Red Sox gave up a promising young prospect in Hanley Ramirez but got 25-yr-old Josh Beckett and the perceived to be bad contract of Mike Lowell. Both Beckett and Lowell became stars and brought a championship to Boston in 2007. Even before that deal, Boston bought Curt Schilling from Arizona for the bargain price of Casey Fossum, Brandon Lyon and minor-lg pitcher Jorge de la Rosa. Schilling won 2 WS rings in 4 yrs in Boston while the Yanks tried to play catch-up by trading for 39-yr-old Kevin Brown and 40-yr-old Randy Johnson.
The Marlins fire-sale of 2007 has had far-reaching repercussions on the Yankees that will last for a decade and the team is only half way through its sentence. During the off-season of 2007, Alex Rodriguez opted-out of his contract with the Yanks and became a Free Agent. After a week or so with no offers from any team, ARod came crawling back to the Yanks and struck the 10-yr deal with Hank Steinbrenner that has been better known as The Albatross. Just a couple of weeks later, Florida put their 25-yr-old slugging 3B Miquel Cabrera on the market and Detroit pounced all over him. Detroit also took on the bad contract of Dontrelle Willis and gave the Marlins 2 Top 10 Minor Lg prospects in Cameron Maybin & Adam Miller. Neither has lived up to their potential and the trade has been an overwhelming success for Detroit. Cabrera is an MVP who has helped make Detroit a perennial contender. Imagine how things might be different had the Yankees traded for Cabrera instead of re-signing ARod that Winter. The Yanks had the young pieces to deal for him too. Both Hughes & Joba were rated just as high as Adam Miller and Ian Kennedy was also on the team then. They had 22-yr-old CF Melky Cabrera coming off a strong rookie season and 20-yr-old CF Austin Jackson coming off a breakout season in the minors(rated #41 by B.A. in 2007) as comparable players to Cameron Maybin. One of Hughes/Joba and one of Melky/Jackson would have been enough to headline a package for Cabrera.
So while the Yankees always have the highest payroll, they have not always had financial flexibility. Lack of flexibility has been the Yankees biggest drawback year to year. Too many multi-year contracts for big money have left the team with few options to improve. They have traded away their young assets in questionable deals for players either too old or just simply not good enough. The one memorable trade that was somewhat of a money deal was the Texas trade for ARod and that was succesful (up until the new contract). However, the Yanks gave up a very good player in Alfonso Soriano and Texas kicked in a lot of money to leave the Yanks only responsible for about $16M per year for Alex. Cashman was able to make that move because he had an opening at 3B, he had money to spend and he had assets to trade (Soriano).
Right now the Yanks don’t have the money and they don’t have great assets. They have some openings but still there are too many positions tied up. The new budget is limiting the ability to improve the team but hopefully it will also have the secondary effect of allowing the team to build some young assets and to gain much-needed financial flexibility as some contracts begin to expire. That way the Yankees will be in position to capitalize the next time a team like Miami decides to give away its stars. One such star the Yanks need to keep their eye on is Giancarlo Stanton. He’ll eventually be the next Miami Marlin to be sold in the next 2 years. Stanton is only 23 but already one of MLB’s best players. He’s already stated publicly that he is pissed off at the team for the recent purge and although he’s not a FA til 2017, I’d expect Miami to move him well before then to get maximum return. Cashman needs to call Miami every day until they finally agree to deal him even if it’s not until 2015.