Last week, I wrote about how, due to age and financial considerations, this could be Jorge Posada's last year as a Yankee. Let's take this thought line—specifically future Yankee financial considerations a bit further: What have the Yankees set themselves up, re. the future?
Now everyone thinks the Yankees have a limitless bankroll, and yes, they have more than their fair share, but it's not bottomless wallet.
For a while now, there have been rumblings about Cashman refusing to go after a player, even though the Yankees could have used him, due to a budget (for instance, Johnny Damon or picking up Kerry Wood's option).
Most people laugh it off. But what if it's serious? What if the current economic crisis is affecting the Yankees and affecting their...gulp...budget?
Well, since significantly increasing their budget from the early 2000s to about 200 million of late, the Yankees have leveled off, giving themselves a soft cushion to go after midseason free agents who will leave at the end of the year, such as Lance Berkman. Hal Steinbrenner has said recently that the Yankees will stay at the same level, so that's about $200 million.
OK, let's assume that the Yankees sign Derek Jeter to a three year, $20 million dollar contract, which will bring us to 2013. In 2013, the Yankees would owe $110 million to five guys: Sabathia, Burnett, Teixeira, Rodriguez and Jeter. The Yankees would have to have the rest of their roster under contract for about $90 million.
And what if Cliff Lee signs with the Yankees? That would take about another $25 million, so, six guys would account for $135 million. Throw in a club option for Robinson Cano, and now the number is $150 million.
This assumes the Yankees don't pick up Curtis Granderson's option; this also assumes Mariano Rivera retires, the Yankees don't resign Nick Swisher and the raises the Yankees would have to pay Phil Hughes, Brett Gardner and whoever takes over shortstop (Nunez perhaps), assuming the Yankees don't sign another significant free agent (who takes over for Rivera if Chamberlain bombs?)
Well, Cashman has been rumbling about going to the farm system more and more, and maybe, in the near future, he'll live by his own words. Odds are, he'll have to.
With three quarters of his budget going to a handful of guys and a number of holes on the team, the Yankees would have to resort to their minor leaguers. Starting with Jesus Montero, the Yankees will need their farm system to produce at a high level, especially considering that the guys pulling down the $150 million will be again and most likely, seeing their level of play diminishing.
Just check it out on Baseball-Reference.com: Alex Rodriguez will be 37 in 2013; Jeter will be 39; A.J Burnett will be 36; Teixeira will be 33; Cliff Lee, should he sign would turn 35 in 2013; and Sabathia, luckily will still be the baby at only 32.
So, it would appear the Yankees have no choice but to turn to the minors to fill in the hole at left field, right field, ace reliever, shortstop (Jeter would move to third), a couple of starters and the rest of their bench and bullpen. Some of those holes could of course be filled with free agents, but not the type of free agent the Yankees are used to.
Consider that $50 million or so has to get divied up by the younger players who should be expecting raises by that time (Phil Hughes, Brett Gardner, Joba Chamberlain, if he is still around, David Robertson, etc.) In other words, it's doubtful that the Yankees would be entering the Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols sweepstakes. Could they afford say, a Wandy Rodriguez? Not without some belt-tightening.
So expect to see more young Yankees than we are used to seeing. Expect maybe an Andrew Brackman reliving where it used to be Mariano Rivera, a Slade Heathcott where Paul O'Neill and Nick Swisher player or Austin Romine where Posada was.
The real $200 million dollar question is this: Is the Yankee farm system ready to play at the New York Yankee level of quality? With the high expectations from fans and the media and the world watching? With TV ratings in the balance?
Who knows? All this is speculative—Who knows what will by 2013? Granted, no one. But it is likely. The Yankees owe a great deal of money to aging players. They also have a budget.
They also have a lot to think about.