A couple weeks ago, there were multiple reports indicating that the New York Yankees, after a typical spending splurge last year, were going to sit out the high-end of free agency this year in favor of trying to retain their own second tier pieces.
While we acknowledged that, yeah, Yankee sources probably really were saying these things, we met the reports with expected incredulity (“I still expect that, when all is said and done, the Yankees will be heavily involved in the top arms this offseason.”).
Seriously? The Yankees, who desperately need pitching if they’re going to continue any kind of competitive window, are going to avoid all of the best pitching on the market this year? We’ll believe it when we see it.
And we’re not going to see it.
According to Jon Heyman, the Yankees are now considering top pitcher Max Scherzer, as, frankly, they were expected to all along. To be sure, the report is couched as “Scherzer’s market is a little slow, and the Yankees are just considering things,” but it feels like the first toe dipped into the market. I’m not saying the Yankees will suddenly pounce on, for example, Jon Lester (though Peter Gammons recently cautioned that they could), but Scherzer is likely to be the most expensive arm. Considering him and not considering, say, James Shields or Kenta Maeda, would be like saying, “I’m on a diet and I might cheat, but I’m only going to eat this entire wedding cake. I wouldn’t dare touch that Oreo. That would be wrong.”
And that’s where the Cubs relevance comes in. Even if the Cubs don’t aggressively pursue Scherzer – Heyman says the Cubs are presumed to be in on him, but that’s about as far as anyone has been willing to go this offseason – the Yankees’ involvement in the upper end of the pitching market will absolutely have an effect on the Cubs, even if it’s just a trickle down. Maybe the Yankees getting Scherzer means Shields goes to a team that would have otherwise gotten Scherzer (not the Cubs). Maybe the Yankees don’t try as hard to bring back Brandon McCarthy if they go after Scherzer, and maybe the Cubs seriously consider McCarthy.
So on and so forth.
In other words, even if the Cubs aren’t in on Scherzer, the Yankees’ involvement there is pretty notable and important to follow. And this is probably just the beginning.