What’s going on with this free agent market? The Los Angeles teams have signed the biggest, most expensive players available, while the Yankees have gone after short-term contracts with older players, and the Red Sox have signed fairly big names without going after the best of the best. Has something in baseball’s economy shifted?
Brian Cashman was asked that question yesterday. This was his lengthy response.
“We had massive commitments with Mike Mussina and Jason Giambi amongst others that prevented (the Yankees from being involved) when Carlos Beltran was a free agent and eventually signed with the Mets, when Delgado was a free agent and signed where he signed. I just remember there’s a number of players on the free agent market that I had to look at, and their year of free agency doesn’t match up with our current needs and our available payroll.
“We have more committed than anybody on a yearly basis, and have for quite some time, and that hasn’t changed. We’re still running a significant payroll that is or will be maybe second to the Dodgers this year. Every winter there is a rise and fall of teams that usually spend a lot and they have to gear down a little bit because it’s not like they can go out there spending with $100 million commitments or more on a yearly basis.
“People, I don’t think, pay attention to the real data of that. They (could) look back in time and say, when they made a commitment to Bernie, look at all those big center fielders that came down the line and went elsewhere. When they made the commitment to Jason Giambi over the number of years, and how many first base/DHs came and went? When they’ve had the pitching staffs that they’ve had, including Mussina and (others) prior to him, when we were re-signing Pettitte and Clemens, how many other starting pitchers would up signing somewhere else that we didn’t play on?
“We get aggressive when there’s a vacancy. We’re not aggressive when there’s not a vacancy. That’s the true story. Not the daily, ‘What The Boss would have done’ or ‘The Boss would have done that.’ Well, I was operating with The Boss under those previous circumstances, and I can tell you that that’s the way it was. I don’t feel that it’s all that different now either. I think we might be a little more methodical, but I think we’re aggressive when the timing is right and the circumstances are right.
“I don’t think we just do it just to do it. I know we might have done that in the 80s and stuff and years past, but I don’t think that’s been a part of our culture for quite a while.”
Associated Press photo