The New York Yankees may have problems, but let's not go overboard. New York and the Yankees are still a draw, still an attractive destination for players.
Even if the team happens to be coming off a playoff-less 2013 campaign, it was only the second such over the past 19 seasons.
Even if longtime stars Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte are gone, and captain Derek Jeter is on his last legs, the club still has top-down stability in longtime general manager Brian Cashman and returning manager Joe Girardi.
Even if the unending Alex Rodriguez suspension saga continues to complicate matters, the team is likely to get at least some sort of a reprieve from that mess during the course of the 2014 season.
And even if free agent Robinson Cano, the club's best player for the last handful of years, decides to move on, that doesn't mean other players will suddenly shun the Yankees too.
After all, in addition to being a contender year in and year out and playing in a big market that brings attention and opportunity and recognition, the Yankees are a brand unto themselves.
Would it look a bit odd or off-putting for Cano to up and leave—by his own choice, essentially—at a time when he could be the face of the franchise? Sure, but to answer a question with a question: Don't you think most people would be questioning Cano's state of mind rather than the Yankees' state of the union?
Perhaps the only area where the Yankees might not have quite the advantage they once did is, surprisingly enough, on the financial front. Obviously, given their market and payroll—which may or may not be "limited" to $189 million in 2014—the Yankees are able to spend a premium where Cashman and Co. see fit.
But then again, so can a lot of other teams, especially now that Major League Baseball has brought in billions of dollars via television deals, and that money can be pumped back into the clubs. Oh, and teams have been doing much of the same by establishing their very own regional broadcast networks too—something the Yankees did more than a decade ago with the YES Network.
In the past, the Yankees often could simply top any other team's price for a player, whether as a free agent or a trade target looking for a massive extension. But because of the recent influx of TV money, that gap has narrowed to an extent. It's part of the reason why there's at least a chance that Cano, the top free agent on the market, actually might not return to the team.
But even if Cano does go, it wouldn't exactly be a sign that things are crumbling around the Yankees from a perception standpoint. After all, let's not pretend that the Yankees aren't still a major draw—perhaps still the top draw—for star-caliber players just because 2013 was disappointing (by their standards), and because the roster is aging and injury-prone.
If anything, that just means that not only will the Yankees be looking to retool by bringing in new players this winter and beyond, it also means there will be even more opportunity for the next batch to wear the pinstripes. That should be enticing enough as is.
Turnover is inevitable in any business, even more so in the sports industry, but don't think that the Yankees organization will have to push too hard to sell top names on coming aboard.
New York and the Yankees sell themselves.
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