For the New York Yankees, there is no tomorrow.
As the offseason unfolds, the organization has one goal in mind, above all else: Compete for a World Series in 2014.
Yes, the self-imposed $189 million payroll mandate is a goal, but not one that will severely impact business on the open market. That was proven when Brian McCann agreed to a five-year, $85 million contract Saturday evening.
After watching the Boston Red Sox capture a World Series just one year after a 93-loss disaster in 2012, the Yankees are rightfully attempting to rebound from their own disappointing campaign. Although 85 wins is hardly a disaster, a third-place finish in the AL East represented just the second non-playoff season in general manager Brian Cashman's reign.
One year after their last season without October baseball in 2008, the Yankees spent in the offseason en route to 103 victories, an American League pennant and a World Series title in 2009.
According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, a similar plan is in place now to the one that brought CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and A.J. Burnett to the Bronx in the aftermath of the '08 season.
Per Heyman, free-agent stars like Carlos Beltran, Stephen Drew, Jacoby Ellsbury, Shin-Soo Choo, Hiroki Kuroda, Joe Nathan and Masahiro Tanaka, along with their own homegrown star, Robinson Cano, are all on the Yankees radar.
In the aftermath of signing Brian McCann, if Cashman can add three or more of those names while staying below the $189 million luxury tax mark in 2014, he might wrap up Executive of the Year honors before pitchers and catchers report for spring training.
Of course, if those players—including New York's top target, Carlos Beltran, according to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News—decline over the next few seasons, the team will suffer in the long term.
By engaging in talks with free agents in the prime or winter of their respective careers, the Yankees are prioritizing 2014 and 2015 over 2016 and beyond.
Outside of Tanaka, the prize of the international pitching market, the stars on New York's radar are on the wrong side of 30. That doesn't mean they can't be productive over the length of any contract. But banking on dominant play from aging stars isn't a sound baseball philosophy.
Yet when assessing the team-building philosophy in the Bronx, comparisons to the rest of baseball are fruitless.
The business model in New York can't be compared to any team in any other city. In fact, it can't even be compared to the penny-pinching New York Mets in Queens. From the cost of tickets, to fan expectations, to the value of the YES Network, to the impending expiration dates of aging stars like Derek Jeter and Ichiro Suzuki, the process of imagining the Yankees in 2016, let alone beyond that, is nearly impossible.
Until the farm system can produce homegrown contributors, as it nearly did with Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain, long-term plans are hard to make in the Bronx. That's why Cashman and the front office are constantly juggling big contracts, veteran castoffs and marginal upgrades.
Even though it might have behooved the Yankees to sell at the trade deadline this past summer, they were buyers, acquiring Alfonso Soriano in hopes of making a miraculous run at the postseason. Until the team couldn't overcome a talent deficiency and an inordinate amount of injuries in September, it nearly worked.
In essence, the organizational model must feed the beast of money and expectations. Behind the scenes, Cashman wants to retool, not rebuild. If Michael Pineda, Gary Sanchez, Mark Montgomery and Mason Williams can become long-term building blocks over the next few seasons, they'll be given every opportunity to join a winning club in the Bronx.
However, unlike franchises with lesser expectations, both internal and external, the Yankees can't wait for tomorrow.
By signing McCann and exploring options around seemingly every marquee free agent on the market, the Yankees are signaling to the baseball world that 2014 still matters more than anything else. In theory, it's not a plan engineered for long-term success. But in practice, the franchise has made the postseason in 17 of the last 19 seasons.
Every high-profile contract comes with risks and consequences. For the Yankees, they are no stranger to the bill due at the end of a significant expenditure.
After profiling as one of the best free-agent pitcher signings in baseball history from 2009-2012 (905 IP, 3.34 SO/BB, 21.8 WAR, 135 ERA+), Sabathia had an awful 2013 (85 ERA+). With three years and $76 million (including a $5 million buyout in 2017) left on a guaranteed deal, the Yankees could pay dearly for the rewards reaped upon Sabathia's arrival.
Similar sentiments can be reflected on Alex Rodriguez (2005, 2007 AL MVP) and Teixeira (2009 AL MVP runner-up). The return on investments, while not financially sound, appeased the masses and helped bring major winning to the Bronx.
Over the next few months, multiple press conferences may take place at Yankee Stadium to introduce big names, bigger contracts and gigantic expectations in 2014. When detailing the pros and cons of each big-ticket item, remember the business model in the Bronx before judging the supply and demand of baseball's market.
Will the Yankees spending lead to a World Series in 2014?
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