TAMPA, Florida – The time when the New York Yankees chose, during a calendar year, some of the best free agents in baseball and promised them to sign bank disengagement contracts is over.
As CEO Brian Cashman says, the game has changed. A series of competitive equilibrium measures have been put in place in sport in recent years – partly because of the Yankees' free spending habits in the past – changing the way the team operates.
The attention in the Bronx has changed, even if the expectations of some fans have not been. The past off season and the beginnings of the spring training show the magnitude of the change.
The Yankees and starting pitcher Luis Severino signed a four-year contract with an option for the fifth year. Sources told ESPN that the total value of the transaction could reach $ 52.25 million.
The Yankees have signed a seven-year extension with Aaron Hicks, who will keep the player under contract until the end of the 2025 season.
While the slugger who took the Bronx to the assault of last season is fighting against Greg Bird for a place at Opening Day, he is focusing on turning his greatest weakness into strength.
The current Yankees' mantra echoes that of the 1990s dynasty: Identify promising young talents, nationally and internationally, sign these players early or get them back through wise trades (see Paxton, the example this winter), help them with the minor league system and keep them as early as possible in the pre-referee window.
It worked with the "Core Four" of Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte – and the rest of the gang who helped five key titles of the World Series between 1996 and 2009.
Now, a new kernel seems to be emerging with the recent signatures of both Luis Severino and center field player Aaron Hicks.
"It's huge to have a core and guys who know how to win and want to win and who are doing things right," said Pettitte, a new special adviser to Cashman, earlier this week via New York Daily News.
"I know that Aaron came from Minnesota, but when you have a core of guys, but I know you're talking about me, Mariano, Derek and Jorge," Pettitte said. "We were all in the miners together, we were doing bus trips together, it gives you a slightly different feeling."
The Yankees office hopes that it will be able to start forming this nucleus over the next two years without being crushed financially. To use another cashman-ism: "Every dollar affects other dollars".
That's partly why there was not a lot of tension at 1 Steinbrenner Drive this spring about Manny Machado's signing with the Padres and Bryce Harper, who almost certainly sign elsewhere.
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"We imported an expensive item the year before in [Giancarlo] Stanton, "said Cashman last week. We have expensive items in this club and they will become more expensive, sooner rather than later. "
They are definitely going.
If you've followed some fans on social media during the off-season, you've seen scenarios in which the Yankees would be spending a lot in the coming years for Stanton, Harper and / or Machado (or both), Nolan Arenado and Aaron Judge (not to mention Jacoby Ellsbury is still making money despite not having played in a major league game for 17 months due to various injuries).
The ability of the Yankees to pay a penalty for exceeding the final threshold of the luxury tax, is a lot of money, much of it coming back to players from outside the country. l & # 39; organization.
This is no longer necessary, because Machado and Arenado (and, soon, assume Harper) are no longer in the picture because of their recent agreements. Arenado signed an extension with the Rockies earlier this week.
"It's good for him, I want to be like that one day," Wednesday Wednesday Miguel Andujar, a Yankees third baseman, laughing about Arenado's deal for $ 260 million. dollars. Despite being the league's American League champion of the season last season, Andujar, who will soon be 24, was reprimanded for his defense, and Arenado was considered a possible improvement.
After his enthusiastic proclamation in English, Andujar, born in the Dominican Republic, found the Spanish, thanks to an interpreter: "Joking aside, it has an impact on the position I am in. But I will continue to enjoy of the game and to play hard and do my best and enjoy all that is going on around the game. "
Next year, Andujar and his second-year colleague, Gleyber Torres, Yankees championship player, could answer the same questions that another Yankees superstar has already faced this spring.
On the first full day of training the team if its representatives had talked to the team about a possible extension to avoid arbitration next year, Judge shook his head.
"No, nothing," he says. "I am focused on the season."
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The outstanding situation of the judges will further highlight the Yankees' cultural credo, although their figures are likely to be much higher than Severino's $ 40 million four-year extension and the signing of the agreement. $ 70 million agreement signed by Hicks.
After all, Judge is not just another star player on the Yankees' list. The two-star player and former rookie of the year is considered the face of the franchise, if not all the sport.
"These are real dollars that have taxable consequences because we are already in a tax wedge," said Cashman about the new agreements between Severino and Hicks. "But it's also an example of our owner [Hal Steinbrenner] trying to walk this line of the present and the future and make good business decisions that invest in this franchise so that we can be the best possible. "
Of course, the Yankees have not yet reached the World Series after knocking on the door two years ago with a run in the AHL championship series, then won 100 games and been eliminated from the AL Division La Series. last season. But their gift always looks promising.
In addition to Severino and Hicks, the organization has unquestionably the best baseball pen, driven by Dellin Betances, a six-year veteran who could also approach a new contract with the Yankees. Betances said earlier this month that his agent had started discussions with the team.
Didi Gregorius, another major player acquired, like Hicks, via the trade, would also have been the target of preliminary conversations about the expansion. He is currently undergoing rehabilitation after an operation at Tommy John, but this might seem like a logical renunciation once he returns later this summer. After experiencing a career year in 2018, Gregorius reached his peak before injuring himself at ALDS last year.
Other Yankees likely to seek new contracts or avoid arbitration next year: Gary Sanchez, Austin Romaine, Tommy Kahnle, Chad Green and Jordan Montgomery.
"We have made good choices so far, especially Severino," the judge said of recent expansions. "What he brings to this club as our ace, it's impressive."
Earlier this week, Hicks echoed Severino by stating that he had accepted his contract – both were largely considered friendly to the team – because he thought the Yankees had the potential to compete in several series of championships.
"This team has potential in the World Series," said Hicks. "I want to be here, guys from the club, I want to fight for them, I want to go to war for them."
While the next steps in this retention plan are unclear, the Yankees seem satisfied with the overall strategy.
"I love the plan we are running – it's healthy," Cashman said. "Does that guarantee anything?" It does not guarantee anything at all, but it's a good road we're walking on, and I hope that when dust falls on all personalities and characters, and that talent, the main thing, will be going to have this great benefit again for the fan base ".