NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — They are, after all, the Yankees. Just because they haven’t gone crazy at the cash register yet doesn’t mean they won’t soon.
That was the takeaway reporters got from team president Randy Levine on Wednesday at the Owners Meetings in Kansas City.
And while they likely won’t go crazy like they did last offseason, the Yankees can never be ruled out of anything on the free-agent market — especially off two consecutive seasons out of the playoffs.
“We have to have some surprises,” Levine said. “We’ll have to wait and see. I think it’s a little early for any conclusions.”
In the immediate aftermath of the Bombers missing the playoffs in 2013, they were relatively quiet in the early stages of free agency. But at around this time — the third week of November — they started an all-out spending assault, first locking up catcher Brian McCann on a five-year, $85 million deal.
Then, roughly two weeks later, they added outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran for a combined $198 million. On top of that, they eventually signed Masahiro Tanaka, spending a total of $175 million over seven years, with the $20 million posting fee to the ace right-hander’s Japanese club.
And though the Yankees went on to a disappointing 84-win, second-place showing, Ellsbury proved to be worth the money, while McCann got better as the season progressed and should be more comfortable in his second season in pinstripes. What Beltran will be remains to be seen considering he suffered through an avalanche of injuries last season. Tanaka was nothing short of a revelation before elbow problems short-circuited his season, though indications are he will be fine for spring training.
Levine was basically saying the Yankees are biding their time, targeting specific areas. They could easily make a splash in free agency or pull off a trade or two, depending on how each market shakes out in the coming weeks.
As far as free agency goes, there is an impressive list of front-end and middle-of-the rotation talent that the Yankees have been linked to, including former AL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer and veteran Brandon McCarthy, who pitched to a 2.89 ERA for the Bombers after being acquired from Arizona last season three weeks before the trading deadline.
On the trade front, the Yankees reportedly have been interested in Texas Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus, though it’s unknown just how serious they are about picking up Andrus’ massive $120 million extension.
The point is, it’s too early to say the Yankees’ offseason has been a success or a failure. They tend to be deliberate, and when they strike it usually resonates across baseball. Give it time.
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