By Andy Singer
Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac, Getty Images
Baseball finds itself in a strange place as the usual rhythms of the offseason have been upset by the specter of a protracted labor dispute. MLB is expected to lockout the players and freeze all roster moves following the expiration of the Collective Bargaining Agreement on December 1st. This has led to an unexpected frenzy, with some big Free Agents coming off the board right after the Thanksgiving holiday. Making matters more challenging is the fact that no one knows what the financial structure the next CBA will bring. As such, we’ve seen teams operate in very different camps.
On one side, we have teams, like the Texas Rangers, that have enough room in their budget to spend at the frontend of the market because they will likely still find themselves whatever new salary thresholds are codified in the future. In a separate camp, we have teams, like the New York Mets, who are throwing all financial caution to the wind, deciding it is better to ask for forgiveness than permission. And in a third camp, we have teams like the Yankees, who seem content to wait out the market.
Waiting out the market is the financially prudent approach at a time like this, but it is not what Yankee fans wanted to see this offseason. Yankee fans listened to Brian Cashman speak in great detail after Aaron Boone’s rehiring about the need to reshape the roster in numerous ways this offseason. Thus far, the Yankees have seemingly sat on their hands while other teams wheel and deal. I’ll forgive fans who are once again wringing their hands over Steinbrenner and Cashman’s inactivity.
I admit that watching the flurry of moves occur over the weekend has chipped away at my patience. I have remained sure that the Yankees would open their purse strings this offseason, so it’s highly disconcerting to watch the Yankees float above the fray for Free Agents prior to the lockout. But let’s look at these deals a little more closely:
Marcus Semien, 7 years, $175 million, Texas Rangers
Jon Gray, 4 years, $56 million, Texas Rangers
Kevin Gausman, 5 years, $110 million, Toronto Blue Jays
Avisail Garcia, 4 years, $53 million, Miami Marlins
Corey Kluber, 1 year, $8 million with escalators up to $13 million, Tampa Bay Rays
Starling Marte, 4 years, $78 million
Mark Canha, 2 years, $26.5 million
Eduardo Escobar, 2 years, $20 million
Rumored to be the favorites to sign Max Scherzer on Monday
Frankly, I’m not sure how “in” I want to be on any of these deals other than maybe Gausman and Kluber. Signing a middle infielder like Semien through age-38 just doesn’t make any sense to me; Jon Gray might be a fine 4th starter who occasionally teases with more, but I’m not sure I trust the stuff to play much better away from Coors; Garcia has never shown a consistent enough approach to prove his worth in back-to-back years; and Marte is getting paid based on the best season of his career despite the fact that he is likely at the beginning of his decline phase.
What gives me hope is that none of the big shortstops have signed yet. I still believe that is the Yankees’ truest goal this offseason: a premium shortstop. We’ll know in the next couple of days which of Seager, Correa, and Story are most likely for the Yanks. Patience is a virtue, but as Yankee fans, our patience is wearing thin.