NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Yankees were very close to spending nearly $300 million on just two players.
According to Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan, the Bombers offered free agent Shin-Soo Choo a seven-year, $140 million contract after they signed Jacoby Ellsbury to a seven-year, $153 million contract in the aftermath of Robinson Cano bolting to Seattle for $240 million over 10 years.
Choo, a career .288 hitter with 104 home runs, and his agent, Scott Boras, declined, asking instead for Ellsbury money. The Yankees immediately pulled their offer and signed Carlos Beltran to a three-year, $45 million deal, Passan reported.
Choo, a 31-year-old outfielder from South Korea, is by far the most attractive free agent remaining on the market, but without the Yankees in play for his services it’s hard to believe he will get an offer bigger than what general manager Brian Cashman threw his way. However, Choo’s agent is Boras, after all, and Boras generally makes his clients happy.
The Yankees now have a surplus of outfielders, with the starters likely being Alfonso Soriano in left, Ellsbury in center and Beltran in right. They also have Brett Gardner, Ichiro Suzuki and Vernon Wells and are believed to be shopping Suzuki and waiting for the right deal to move Gardner. Last week the Yankees turned down the Cincinnati Reds’ offer of second baseman Brandon Phillips for Gardner after the three-time All-Star demanded the Yankees re-work his contract, which has four years and $50 million remaining.
Cashman and Co. have since moved on and look content to platoon at second base with Kelly Johnson and Brian Roberts, who were each signed to a one-year deal. The Yankees are also considering their options at third, with rumors of interest in Michael Young to replace Alex Rodriguez, should A-Rod’s 211-game suspension be upheld.
What happens with A-Rod could prove vitally important to the Yankees financially. According to an Associated Press report, New York is now committed to around $177 million of luxury taxable salary for next season. Yankees executives have said time and again that getting in under $189 million is a goal, but not a mandate.
However, if the idea is to make a serious pitch for Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who could be posted by his club any time now that the new rules have been worked out between Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball, the Yankees would gain added flexibility from all or part of Rodriguez’s $27.5 million salary being wiped off their books.
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