Remember when the New York Yankees used to spend and at times, overspend for players in free agency? Those days appear to be over.
It’s been well documented and reported that they want to re-sign Aroldis Chapman and make him the closer again, and it’s also been reported that Chapman would love to pitch for the Yankees again. Now even though the Yankees want Chapman back, even they will set a limit as far as how much they will, or in this case, how much they won’t go.
George King of the New York Post has reported that the Yankees will not meet Chapman’s demands of wanting a $100 million deal in free agency this winter. The highest amount of money a closer has ever received in free agency was Jonathan Papelbon when he got a four-year, $50 million deal from the Philadelphia Phillies several years back. Chapman is surely going to surpass Papelbon’s deal this winter and he should.
After all, Chapman is arguably the most dominating closer in the game today with an overpowering fastball reaching triple digits and the Cuban left-hander was a big part of the Chicago Cubs ending their 108-year championship drought and winning the World Series this past season.
But the Yankees aren’t doing things that the Yankees used to do in overspending. Like when they outbid themselves back in 2008 for CC Sabathia by at least $62 million to get him locked up? Sure, Sabathia helped the Yankees win the World Series in 2009, but his contract hasn’t exactly been a great one over the last couple of seasons. Or when they gave Carl Pavano a four-year, $40 million deal when they need to get younger in the outfield and Carlos Beltran wanted to take less money to sign with the Yankees, but instead, signed Pavano and Jaret Wright and let Beltran go to the New York Mets? That move didn’t quite work out for the Yankees considering Pavano and Wright were downright flops.
Or, instead of the Yankees signing the more obvious, younger and wiser choice in Vladimir Guerrero, the Yankees opted to give a 35-year-old Gary Sheffield a three-year, $38 million deal. The Yankees ended up trading Sheffield away just a couple of years later while Guerrero went on to play MVP-caliber baseball for the Los Angeles Angels for several years. These are deals that were notorious for the Yankees in spending to spend to be competitive, but weren’t always the wisest moves to make.
And if you even want to look at recent signings, the Yankees spending $75 million more than the competition to get Masahiro Tanaka at a seven-year, $155 million deal (plus $20 million for the posting fee that went to his Japanese team). Now Tanaka has been good, but $25 million good? Not quite, especially considering the question marks with his health and making 30-plus starts every season.
This kind of overspending to beat out the competition for players has hamstrung the Yankees for a while and Brian Cashman isn’t letting it happen anymore, especially when the team is on a different path for the franchise, which is player development through the system.
Now, don’t be mistaken, the Yankees want Chapman back, so it’s not like they won’t spend anything to get him and if they are the front-runners to land him like everyone thinks they are, they’ll spend plenty to get him. But they won’t overspend and essentially, bid against themselves to get Chapman back in pinstripes.
Ultimately, if Chapman is true to his word and wants to come back to the Yankees, he’ll back away from the demands of wanting $100 million and take slightly less than that. Some around baseball have predicted him getting a five-year deal worth $80-85 million, which would still make him the highest paid closer ever in the sport, and deservedly so. But $100 million? Even the Yankees are showing some restraint these days and won’t go crazy like they used to on the open market.
Welcome to the new way the Yankees are doing business. It might not be the most popular and it could get boring for the average fan, but in the long run, it will help the franchise get back to being in the postseason every year.