Earlier this week we discussed a surprising, bordering on dubious, report out of the New York that had the Yankees planning to avoid the top tier of free agency this year – no Max Scherzer, Jon Lester, James Shields, or Pablo Sandoval – in favor of less-expensive options. Because of the gravity associated with that actually happening (the market would be changed fairly dramatically), we had to talk about it, even if we all expressed skepticism, given that we’ve heard these kinds of things from the Yankees before.
… but now Jon Heyman jumps in saying “sources connected to the team suggest they have ‘zero’ plans to pursue” Jon Lester or Max Scherzer. Instead, Heyman reports, the Yankees are focused on Brandon McCarthy, Jason Hammel, and Chris Capuano. Check out Heyman’s report for yourself. The real eyebrow-cocking part is where Yankees people are running around telling folks that they don’t see the wisdom in committed “seven or eight years” for an elite starter.
An organizational change of heart?
Driving down market for Lester/Scherzer?
That one makes some sense to me, because, if you’re asking me to choose which is more likely – the Yankees go second tier, by choice, or the Yankees are throwing bologna out there on purpose and will soon “change their mind” again – I’m choosing the latter every time.
Until, that is, I see them do something different. I’ll remain open to the possibility that they really aren’t bluffing this time, but I look at the Yankees’ rotation and I’d be shocked if they didn’t want to add a top-tier arm. Masahiro Tanaka’s elbow is ready to pop. The Yankees can’t count on CC Sabathia. It seems impossible to believe that Shane Greene is really that good. Ivan Nova is coming back from elbow surgery. Michael Pineda just got over a serious shoulder injury and then missed a chunk of time last year with a shoulder/muscular issue.
It would be irresponsible for the Yankees not to make serious moves in their rotation. That said, it’s not like I can completely question the wisdom of preferring to re-sign McCarthy and grab Hammel for probably less than half the cost of a Scherzer. For the Cubs, even, I can see the attractiveness, given next year’s potentially ridiculous free agent class (and also the theoretical ability to trade for someone like Cole Hamels). Indeed, maybe the Yankees, too, are eyeing the deep, deep pool of pitching talent after 2015.
I still expect that, when all is said and done, the Yankees will be heavily involved in the top arms this offseason. But it’s interesting that they are so openly telling the world that they will not be.