Buster Olney's article on McCann deal is not even close to all the Yankees will do this offseason.
McCann deal just the first move for Yanks
By Buster Olney | ESPN.com
A general manager ran through the list of possible targets for his team the other day, and he glossed over the name of a prominent free agent. Not interested, he indicated, because “you’d have to give up the [draft] pick.”
He expressed the continuing sentiment of a lot of baseball executives, that draft picks and the draft dollars attached to them have value that cannot be surrendered lightly. This is why the Red Sox targeted a bunch of free agents who weren’t attached to draft picks last winter, and probably part of the reason Jason Vargas has a four-year deal -- he wasn’t attached to a draft pick -- and some teams are shying away from Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez, who are tied to compensation.
But that dynamic changes dramatically once a team decides to surrender its first-round pick, as the Yankees will in signing Brian McCann. Now the Yankees are set up for the double-dip, or more, among the elite free agents tied to compensation, like Carlos Beltran, Stephen Drew, Ervin Santana and others.
“It’s like buying the buffet instead of ordering off the menu,” one executive said earlier this month. “You might as well go back for seconds and thirds.”
While the Red Sox, Rangers and other teams competing against the Yankees for the elite free agents will continue to weigh their desire to keep their top pick, this is no longer an obstacle for the Yankees. If they sign Shin-Soo Choo, or Drew, or Kendrys Morales, they will lose picks after the first round, which have far less value. (And the Yankees have set themselves up to get draft-pick compensation if Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson or Hiroki Kuroda sign elsewhere).
We saw this last winter with the Cleveland Indians. The Indians had a protected first-round pick, No. 5 overall, because of their 2012 record. When they signed Nick Swisher to a four-year, $56 million deal, they gave up a competitive balance selection at No. 69 overall. As the winter played out, Michael Bourn became obtainable to them, partly he was tied to draft compensation and his market value dipped. The Indians signed the center fielder to a four-year, $48 million, and only had to give up their second-round pick for Bourn.
Last winter, the Yankees avoided the free agents tied to pick compensation, to protect their draft. But now the Yankees are in a similar position as the Indians were last winter. If the market shrinks for Drew, Morales, Santana, etc., as it did for Kyle Lohse, New York will be in position to more freely pursue the player -- and against far fewer bidders, because a lot of teams simply won’t give up their top picks.
A safe bet: Now that the Yankees have given up their first-round pick, they will be going back to the buffet for seconds, and maybe for more.
This was the first big move of the winter for the Yankees, as John Harper writes. This is a deal about today, not tomorrow, as Joel Sherman writes.
The Yankees are keenly aware of what’s at stake for them in 2014, after their failure to make the playoffs in 2013. Attendance was down, their TV ratings were down significantly, and they need a quick rebound. I wrote here the other day that the Yankees really want Robinson Cano back, but they’re not going to wait for him; they’ve got to get better.
That has started with McCann, and could continue in the days ahead.
As of today, this is what the framework of the Yankees’ lineup looks like:
1B Mark Teixeira
SS Derek Jeter/Brendan Ryan
LF Alfonso Soriano
CF Brett Gardner
RF Ichiro Suzuki/Vernon Wells
From ESPN Stats & Information, the highest average annual value among catches to sign contracts:
Joe Mauer: $23M (2011-18)
Buster Posey: $18.6M (2013-21)
Brian McCann: $17M* (2014-18)
Yadier Molina: $15M (2013-17)
Jorge Posada: $13.1M (2008-11)
Mike Piazza: $13M (1999-05)
*Largest ever issued to catcher in free agency
Yankees catchers, in MLB rankings last season:
OPS: .587 (26th)
Slug pct: .298 (29th)
HR: 8 (30th)
RBI: 43 (30th)
McCann: .796 OPS, 20 HR last season