Over in the New York Times, Tyler Kepner explains the Yankees’ approach this off-season:
It turns out the Yankees are not obliged to sign a player just because he happens to be a free agent who would fill a need. They won 97 games last season, the most in the league, before their first-round playoff loss. They can give it another try with these players and go back on the market next winter, when the free-agent starters should be much more appealing.
Cole Hamels and Matt Cain, All-Stars younger than 30 with strong postseason pedigrees, are unsigned past this season. Either would make more sense for the Yankees, in the long term, than [C.J.] Wilson or the other top starters on this winter’s market.
…What they are doing is planning ahead, a strategy that fits Hal Steinbrenner much better than it ever did his impatient father, George. Incentives in the new collective bargaining agreement would essentially reward the Yankees for reducing their payroll to $189 million by 2014. By then, Burnett, Mariano Rivera, Rafael Soriano and Nick Swisher will be off the payroll, which has exceeded $200 million in each of the last four years.
At the moment, the Yankees owe just over $80 million to Sabathia, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Derek Jeter for 2014. That leaves a lot of room for marquee talent, some of which is already in pinstripes.
This is all so sensible, though it feels odd on some level, a George-less Yankee team, one that exercises caution. Part of me is waiting for someone there to stop making sense–another Soriano maybe? In the meantime, they are being very Dude-like about it. Go figure.