They Aren’t Necessarily Rebuilding and They Won’t be Contenders
By Michael Papandrea
Derek Jeter is gone, Alex Rodriguez might be back, and the Dodgers have replaced the Yankees as the highest paying team for the first time in 16 years. The 2015 baseball season is geared up to be an interesting soap opera for the Evil Empire, with the biggest storylines centered around A-Rod himself.
And why shouldn’t they be?
Rodriguez, who turns 40 this summer, is coming off two hip surgeries and hasn’t played in the Majors for two seasons due to PED suspensions. He may be one of the greatest of all-time, steroids or not, but it remains to be seen if he can help his team win ball games. Heck, we might not even get the opportunity to find out if he still can.
The Yankees have done all they can to reduce A-Rod to a bench player for the first time in his career. They inked Chase Headley to a four year contract, so A-Rod won’t have his third base job back.
They also brought in Garrett Jones to take over the DH role. The Yankees clearly want nothing to do with A-Rod, yet they still haven’t released him.
In fact, a new story has come out saying that the Yankees are trying to contest A-Rod’s bonuses that could give him $6 million each time he ties someone on the all-time home run list–and he is only six away from reaching Willie Mays’s total of 660.
If the Yankees think A-Rod will hit six home runs, then that implies that he will actually have a chance to play, despite the roadblocks his own team has placed in front of him. It’s possible that the front office will just release him if the ruling is not in their favor, but even the Yankees know that $61 million is an awful lot to pay a guy who is not playing.
Aside from Rodriguez, the team has been trying to get younger and cheaper. According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the Yankees have the prospects to acquire starting pitcher Cole Hamels.
The team desperately needs a starter, especially with question marks surrounding C.C Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka coming off an injury.
The old money throwing Yankees would have made this move in a heartbeat, but GM Brian Cashman is not looking to give up on a minor league system he has worked hard to build up.
The goal is to get under the luxury tax line, which is set at $189 million. That means that we aren’t going to see the Yankees sign expensive free agents or make trades for players who are owed millions.
For this upcoming season, the team’s payroll is over $230 million, with A-Rod, Sabathia, and Mark Teixeira taking up $75 million of that.
What this means is that, come trade deadline, the Yankees could actually be sellers rather than buyers. If it’s clear they are out of contention in July, they may trade away a guy like Brett Gardner or Tanaka, because they will not only shed payroll, but also take in high quality prospects.
And you can bet that if Sabathia, Teixeira, or Carlos Beltran can work their value up to the point of being tradable, the Yanks won’t think twice about cutting ties.
So what do we make of the 2015 New York Yankees? If they are competing for a playoff spot, they will be considered underdogs for the first time in a long time. But this is not what should be expected. 2015 will likely be a year in which they continue to get younger and cheaper.
Let’s not forget, the core four of Jorge Posada, Andy Petite, Mariano Rivera, and Jeter all came through the Yankees minor league system.
With all of them retired now, the Evil Empire would probably like to create a dynasty the same way they created the championship teams of the late 1990s and early 2000s–through the farm system.