A year ago Saturday, the Yankees opened the free agent signing period by offering CC Sabathia six years and $140 million. It was an aggressive offer from a team that promised to be active in the free agent market. The Yankees had many holes, and as luck had it the free agent class featured a number of players who could fill them. Sabathia was the center piece, but it was known that the Yankees wouldn’t end with just one acquisition. Brian Cashman himself said he was bringing home two pitchers.
It was the perfect time for the Yankees. The free agent class was strong, with a few elite and otherwise high quality players. Because a few contracts had just expired, the team had money to spend. Other teams helped too, but restricting spending at a time when the Yankees freed up resources. It all came together, and the Yankees struck. That doesn’t happen all the time, and given the Yankees current situation and the strength of the market, it doesn’t appear that the Yankees will make a similar play this year.
Cashman recently commented on the free agent situation, saying that, “You won’t see offers right out of the gate.” It signals that the Yankees will be a bit more patient with this class, knowing that adding any of the top players means yet another long-term, high-salary commitment. Over the last two off-seasons the team has added four contracts of five years or longer. I’m not sure the team is ready to add another.
This means that the Yankees probably won’t sign Matt Holliday. On his newly minted Twitter account, ESPN’s Buster Olney says that the Yankees “are not interested in signing Holliday.” In a different year, maybe the Yankees make a play for Holliday. But the Yankees already have $92.912 million committed to their 2013 roster. That does not include Derek Jeter, whose contract is up after next season and who will presumably sign a new, lucrative deal that will cover 2013. Adding Holliday (and Jeter) would put the 2013 figure close to $130 million.
Last year the Yankees took advantage of a robust free agent market. They had the money, and the players were right. Neither is true this year. The Yankees have some money coming off the books, but they also have holes to fill. While it’s nice to think of Holliday roaming left field in 2010, it means he’d also play there in 2013 and beyond. That doesn’t appear to interest the Yankees this off-season.