While it is never a shock, the New York Yankees are apparently willing to open the checkbook this year, especially at the trade deadline to acquire pitching chips that may be required for the Bombers to compete. As usual, it is frustrating for a fan base or ownership to have the second highest payroll in MLB and be in such a situation. However, the reality is here and it may take deep pockets to fix in the short term.
The Yankees are holding it together right now in no small part to the Cy Young quality start to 2014 from Japanese import, Masahiro Tanaka. Three of the other four expected starters for the Yankees are out of action. Ivan Nova is another in the long line of Tommy John surgery victims this season, Michael Pineda has a right shoulder blade issue and CC Sabathia has right knee problems. The Yankees got a phenomenal performance from spot starter, Chase Whitley who pitched 4 2/3 of shutout baseball. He is converting to a starter from a career relief role which limited his innings. It is assumed that a team like the Yankees will not hold pat, if things do not turn around, with a makeshift rotation. You do not have to listen to anything outside of Yankees managing general partner, Hal Steinbrenner, to understand the mindset:
“[We’re] always willing to look at options come July. Come the trade deadline,” Steinbrenner, said as he departed the quarterly owners’ meetings at Major League Baseball’s Manhattan headquarters. “And I think we’ve shown that. Some years we’ve done stuff, like last year with [Alfonso] Soriano. Some years we haven’t. But we’re not going to ever lay down and die. We’re going to do what we need to do to stay in.”
Some players that the Yankees might be targeting, for better or worse, are the Cubs Jason Hammel, the Diamondbacks Bronson Arroyo, the Phillies Cliff Lee or Kyle Kendrick, and the Rays David Price. However, what most teams look for is a talented prospect or two in return. The Yankees, while improving, are slim in that category. What they can offer teams is the ability to absorb salary. That makes a player like Cliff Lee more logical than say a Jason Hammel. A deal for Lee would only add to the aging roster which has proven, much like 2013, to be susceptible to injury. As an example, the Yankees have lost free agent acquisition Carlos Beltran to the disabled list for up to three months. While age is an issue, the managing general partner does not believe it is an end all be all situation. According to Steinbrenner:
“Age is always a concern, we’ve got some bright spots that we’ve seen. [Adam] Warren, [Dellin] Betances, [John Ryan] Murphy. Going out and getting younger players like [Jacoby] Ellsbury, [Brian] McCann. …I’ve always believed in that balance between young guys and veterans. Because the veterans lead, teach. “
The Yankees pockets are deep but not endless and Hal Steinbrenner has attempted to show some level of restraint of recent years compared to his father. They are still one of the most unapologetic and aggressive spenders in baseball compared to any team not named the Los Angeles Dodgers. Will players come back and stay healthy? That is an unknown. Will the Yankees spend in attempt to keep a winner in New York? That is a given. Will it translate to a division and possible World Series title in 2014? That is unknown but the fans of the Yankees can sleep well knowing there is an ownership group that will do everything in their power to win in New York.