SCOTTSDALE – Yankees fans have grown accustomed to their team making a big offseason splash on a nearly annual basis, so it was no surprise that a published report Tuesday linked the Bombers to Mets free agent slugger Yoenis Cespedes.
But before the Bleacher Creatures begin figuring out what their chant for Cespedes will be for the Opening Day roll call, let’s get one thing straight:
When it comes to the Yankees, you never say never. But this isn’t going to happen. Nor should it.
Cespedes will add an impact power bat to whichever lineup he winds up anchoring in 2017 and beyond, but the Yankees are not in a position to make such a move. Not right now.
Beginning with last year’s trade deadline moves, the Yankees have set their agenda for the upcoming season or two: See what their highly touted kids have to offer, shed some of their onerous contracts and reset themselves for what they hope will be their next great dynasty.
Adding a 31-year-old hitter on a five-year contract – industry estimates have Cespedes signing for a minimum of five years and $125 million – would seem counterproductive for a team that has been looking forward to shedding the millions of dollars it handed to the likes of Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia and Carlos Beltran during the past decade.
“We need to get out from certain commitments,” Cashman said. “It’s going to take another year before we get pretty crazy again.”
That Cashman has reached out to Cespedes’ representatives is hardly news; the GM typically speaks with every agent for every player on the market each winter. It’s called due diligence.
If you’re looking for a model of what the Yankees are aiming for, look no further than the World Series champion Cubs. Chicago developed young players such as Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, Kyle Schwarber and Javier Baez among others, then supplemented that nucleus with free agents including Jon Lester, Ben Zobrist, John Lackey and Jason Heyward.
Brian Cashman has made it clear he wants to build through the farm system, much like the Cubs.
If Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird, Aaron Judge, Clint Frazier, Gleyber Torres and Jorge Mateo – or at least four of the six – mature into impactful players the way the Cubs’ core did, then the Yankees can attack the free-agent market in two years when guys like Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Josh Donaldson, Matt Harvey, Dallas Keuchel and possibly Clayton Kershaw will be available.
“We’re going to try to be active in the free-agent market this year, but in terms of the big-time, impactful imports, I think we’re still at least a year away from that,” Cashman said. “You saw what Chicago did; they got the good collection of talent and they went all-in on Lester, then Zobrist and Lackey. We’re not at that spot yet, where we’d bring in a $180 million contract, but we’re getting closer.”
Sanchez, Bird and Judge are the odds-on favorites to open next season as the starters at catcher, first base and right field, respectively, continuing the youth movement that started late last summer.
With players signed at every position in the lineup, Cashman indicated that he has no plans to pursue any big bats on the free-agent market. That said, things could always change if they were able to unload annual rumor magnet Brett Gardner, who is owed $23 million over the next two years with a $12.5 million option for 2019 (or a $2 million buyout).
The Yankees have addressed their middle infield needs over the past two years with trades for Didi Gregorius and Starlin Castro, but if you’re inclined to believe Cashman (which I am), the lineup on April 2 will look identical to the one that ended the season, only with Bird taking Teixeira’s place at first base.
In other words, this isn’t the GM trying to sell us on Bubba Crosby being his center fielder as he was finalizing a deal with Johnny Damon or even Nick Swisher playing first base before he signed Teixeira.
“Our team offensively was not good enough last year, but we have players in all positions and we have kids taking their shot in right field and first base,” Cashman said. “Because of that, I don’t see myself changing much on the offensive side. It doesn’t mean I’m not open-minded to it, it doesn’t mean we might run into some things that change the puzzle pieces.”
Cespedes won’t be one of those puzzle pieces, but that doesn’t mean it’s not fun to talk about, right?
Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News