Dear baseball fans,
You should now be on panic mode. The weeks and days are coming closer to a possible overthrowing of the free agency system, and it could all come at the hands of Aroldis Chapman.
Not that Chapman has done, or for that matter, will do anything wrong. The 21-year-old Cuban defected a few months ago and is now looking for a way into the greatest baseball league in the universe.
But Chapman could easily be the center of an abrupt ending to one of Major League Baseball's most important decisions over the last 40 years: free agency.
This is figurative, of course. But there's more truth to it than you might think at first glance. The culprit in this case, no stranger to being guilty of spending lots of money, is the New York Yankees.
The Yankees have always been a team of acquiring big-name players. Go back 91 years, all the way to 1918, and you will see that the Yankees bought Babe Ruth outright from the Boston Red Sox. Ruth cost $100,000, which is worth approximately $1,418,304 in today's money. Though it doesn't seems like a lot, the Yankees nearly doubled the next highest bid for Ruth.
The selling of the Yankees to George Steinbrenner in 1973 sparked the re-emergence of the money spending trend for the Yanks. Steinbrenner learned the nuances of the free agent market just as it arrived in baseball.
He would come away knowing it better than anyone else.
Utilizing the free agent market to acquire players like Reggie Jackson, Catfish Hunter, and Goose Gossage, was a key factor into the new and improved Yankees teams of the late 1970s.
Their downfall of the '80s was sparked mainly by Steinbrenner attempting to revive washed up veterans careers. If you've ever watched Seinfeld, you are probably aware of Steinbrenner's line about trading Jay Buhner for Ken Phelps.
Phelps was 33 years old at the time and had a career batting average sub .250. Buhner was a young prospect. Phelps hit a grand 17 home runs for the Yankees over parts of two mediocre seasons while Buhner went onto hit 307 home runs as a member of the Mariners, including three 40-plus home run seasons, an All-Star Game appearance, and a gold glove.
It was moves like these that put the Yankees out of the playoffs for 13 years.
Then, something magical happened.
Steinbrenner was suspended for three seasons, which led to the Yankees developing their farm system. It was Steinbrenner's absence in the late '80s and early '90s that led to the championships of the late 1990s.
But since that 2000 World Series championship, the Yankees have owned the free agent market. And it's only going to get worse. Signing players like Jason Giambi, Carl Pavano, and Mike Mussina, just to name a few, show that the Yankees are simply dominating the free agent market. It could get worse.
As mentioned earlier, Chapman defected from Cuba, and it is only a matter of weeks before he can officially file for free agency. Of course, the "bidding" is open to all 30 teams, but when you hear the word "bidding" involved with a free agent, you think of a few teams, but the team mentioned most often...you guessed it, those damn Yankees.
This article isn't saying that Chapman will sign with the Yankees. It's just a warning that if he does, Michael Weiner should just start building a headstone for free agency.
A perfect example of the Yankees dominating free agency: last winter. The three superstars of the free agent market were pitchers CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and first baseman Mark Teixeira. It was rumored that Sabathia was interested in going to the Dodgers, Burnett could have been headed to the Braves, and Tex was almost a Red Sox. Is it a coincidence they all ended up wearing pinstripes? No, it is certainly not.
And this trend will only continue to fall in the Yankees' favor, as they will only continue to sign big-name players. Some teams beside the Yankees that should draw interest in Chapman are the Red Sox, Dodgers, and possibly the Rangers (you never know what Tom Hicks has up his sleeve).
There is a good chance the Red Sox will sign Chapman, as they are in need of another starter in their rotation. But, then again, there was an even better chance that the Sox were going to land Tex last season, only to see Tex end up in pinstripes.
My warning to you is that Chapman could easily fall into the hands of the Yankees, and it's harder to defect from the Yankees than it is from Cuba.
Will Chapman be the next El Duque, or the next El Duquecito?
That we will find out in 2010.
What we will find over the next few weeks is the true integrity Hal and Hank Steinbrenner, and that will tell a whole lot, because George isn't coming back to work too quickly.
Your honest Yankee fan,
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