The Yankees Free Agent Attraction Debate… Money Doesn’t Buy Free Agents Anymore

Read the opposing argument from Babe Ruthless.

‘Tis the season to be jolly!!! Unfortunately, I’m not sure how jolly it is from a baseball standpoint for New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman. First, Carl Crawford decided to take his talents to Beamtown, and then last week, Cliff Lee, long rumored to be destined for the Bronx (I even wrote about the need for Lee last month) decided to return to the city of Brotherly Love to pitch for the Phillies. This is quite the change from yesteryear, when the Yankees seemingly had no trouble whatsoever getting any free agent they wanted. That was then, this is now. Cashman is supposed to play Santa this time of year, and right now, Santa isn’t delivering.

Bleacher Fan is asking the Babe and myself if New York is no longer the main destination for free agents, and I would have to say that it really isn’t the main destination.

The school of thought used to be, “Well if the Yankees want him, they’ll get him.” We all thought that was possibly the case while watching Lee pitch this post-season. We’ve let these types of thoughts enter our minds because as we often say, “they’re the Yankees.” They have the biggest wallets. They have the biggest fan base. They have the most history. They have the pinstripes. Well, this off-season, they have the most egg on their face.

Why, is a good question here. With Lee, the Yankees went to seven years in contract value for a pitcher that is currently 32 years old. Various reports had Lee bypassing close to $30M to pitch in Philadelphia rather than in New York. That really is astonishing if you think about it. Perhaps playing for the Yankees doesn’t have the same allure that is used to. I’m sure Babe Ruthless and other diehard Yankees fans truly don’t believe that, but it could be on the verge of being true. Part of the reason the Yankees are so polarizing is because the average fan feels like they try to buy the World Series. I’ve said that numerous times over the years with all of their high profile free agent signings of guys like Alex Rodriguez, Mark Texiera, C.C. Sabathia, Jason Giambi, etc. If they don’t get all the high profile guys anymore (and they didn’t this off-season), and have to settle for guys like Russell Martin and an older Mark Prior, then maybe they truly are losing a little bit of steam.

And then there’s the incident that was rumored to have happened in the ALCS this past off-season at Yankee Stadium involving Lee’s wife, Kristen. She was harassed repeatedly at Yankee Stadium, with beer tossed in her direction and obscenities shouted at her throughout much of the night. Now, fans will be fans, and that’s all well and good and part of it. But to treat a player’s wife like that is unacceptable, and that kind of behavior can’t sit well with ANY player. Now, both Lee and his wife downplayed the incident last week and said it had no bearing on his decision to not sign with the Yankees. I just have a hard time believing that the issues from this past post-season never entered into the picture.

The bottom line is that the Yankees have lost their grip as THE main destination for free agent. It’s no longer a given that the Yankees’ organization will get every marquee free agent it wants. This off-season has proven that, and Babe Ruthless, I hate to tell you buddy, but it’s not going to get any better for you anytime soon!
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