Friday, December 19, 2014

Good news: Randy Levine says Yankees unlikely to add lavish salary

We’ve heard that the New York Yankees would not spend lavishly this offseason quite frequently from general manager Brian Cashman, and Thursday the Bombers’ president Randy Levine echoed those statements in an interview with Newsday’s David Lennon.

"We're always out there looking, but it has to be tempered by the reality of the organization," Levine said. "You look at our pitching staff, for example. We have two guys who make a lot of money, so you have to build around them. The chances of us bringing in another guy who makes $25 million or over are, in my opinion, virtually none."

It’s hard for me to understand why this is such a big deal to fans. So the Yankees decide to try to become somewhat more responsible with their money and some of the “faithful” are beckoning for George Steinbrenner to return from the grave.

The key word in the Yankees' mantra this offseason is “lavishly” not “cheap.” The Yankees have already spent $95.5 million this offseason on just four free-agents according to MLB Trade Rumors' free-agent tracker. Of that total, $88 million was guaranteed for Andrew Miller and Chase Headley alone. Not exactly chump change.

Further, the Yankees are not finished spending on the 2015 roster. They could certainly swing a trade for a starter which would end up costing them more money, or maybe they’ll fill another rotation spot by signing Hiroki Kuroda (who would cost them around $15 million or more). If not Kuroda, then it’s not difficult to believe the Yankees will sign someone to add some depth to their rotation before spring training.

No, this is not a franchise that is going to stop spending but rather one that is going to spend with a bit more of a glimpse into what the contract will look like at the backend. This was not the case when they dumped truck loads of dough for Alex Rodriguez, CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira. They might not have cared about the backend of a deal as recently as their signings of Brian McCann and Jacoby Ellsbury.

Those deals were predicated on winning right away and fielding teams that were "instant" contenders. The Yankees have missed the playoffs two seasons in a row while spending over $400 million in player’s salaries and guarantying close to $500 million more last season alone.

Understand that the Yankees do not simply pay a high price for major league players. The Yanks spend more on minor league contracts, out-bidding other teams for players they believe have upside by offering them large minor league deals that other clubs simply cannot afford. Additionally, the Yanks have doled out almost $29 million in signing bonuses/penalties on the international market simply because they could withstand the penalties to do so, and their front office staff was wise enough to know that there could be an international draft sooner rather than later.

See, the Yankees are not all of the sudden going to turn into a low-budget franchise. But, they’re certainly trying to pick and choose who they give long-term and lucrative agreements to in the future. It seems that they are not going to drop nine-figure salaries on players who have crossed the 30-year-old mark, or those who they feel will deteriorate quicker than the contract ends. They might have finally learned their lesson.

I fully believe the Yankees feel that they have a special group of talented players coming through the system that they can use in the majors beginning as early as this season, and that they will want to cultivate more of those players in the future. The theory then becomes one which revolves around paying those in the organization to stay for years to come. The Yankees seem to be trying to build a new core to grow with.

None of this suggests that the Yankees will not sign a free agent to a nine-figure salary again. Nor does it mean that the Yankees won’t back peddle and go after Max Scherzer or James Shields. But, everything they’ve done to date indicates that they’re doing their best to be prudent with their payroll. Hearing Levine say it almost solidifies that ownership is on-board with Cashman. This way of conducting business will benefit the Yankees long-term and fans might just have to “suffer” in the meantime.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance sports writer and sports media strategist. His baseball commentary has also been published on Yahoo Sports, the FanSided network, Sportsideo and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In. He is a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and the BYB Hub.