As the Yankees offseason began, Alex Rodriguez remained a looming presence over everything they did or didn’t do. He filed more lawsuits, gave more outrageous radio interviews, and continued his fight against, basically, everyone. My guess is you could pick an A-Rod moment as the most memorable for at least two of these months, maybe all three. But by the end of the year, the Rodriguez situation had become a familiar buzz. It was an ongoing saga that felt more like new chapters than new stories. It never went away, but the Yankees began making moves toward other things, preparing for a future that might or might not include the most highly paid player in baseball.
Joe Girardi signs four-year extension
Even though he missed the playoffs in his first year as manager, Joe Girardi has lasted six years in a job often seen as volatile. He missed the playoffs again in 2013, and he was quickly given a four-year deal to remain as the Yankees manager. On October 9, less than two weeks after the season came to an earlier-than-usual end, Girardi signed a new contract that should keep him on the Yankees bench for a full decade. He will be the man who presides over the transition from the Core Four to whatever comes next. These are uncertain days for the Yankees, but they’ve found some stability in a manager who believes in numbers and playing the odds. He’s also managed to handle the media and the superstars, but his most difficult years might be ahead of him, beginning with this one.
Worth mentioning: Alex Rodriguez sued Major League Baseball and Yankees team doctor Christopher Ahmad (the craziness continues); the division-rival Red Sox won the World Series; Mariano Rivera was given the Commissioner’s Historic Achievement Award
Brian McCann kicks off the offseason spending
Given their short porch in right field, their history of excellent catchers, and their lack of catcher production last season, the Yankees had one obvious free agent target this winter. And they wasted little time signing him. On November 23, the Yankees reached an agreement with Brian McCann, the former Braves slugger who simply made too much sense. The only thing that might keep the Yankees from going after him would be absolute commitment to pinching pennies, but the Yankees were aggressive when the free agent market opened, and McCann was one of the first true impact players off the board. He represents a significant offensive upgrade over in-house options, and he seems to fit well in Yankee Stadium. His signing set the tone for a drastic lineup makeover.
Worth mentioning: Derek Jeter got a new one-year contract; Alex Rodriguez’s appeal hearing ended; Mike Harkey left to become the Diamondbacks’ pitching coach; Brendan Ryan returned as a utility man
Robinson Cano signs with Seattle
Three days after Jacoby Ellsbury agreed to sign with the Yankees, Robinson Cano was heading the other way. He’d been the Yankees best player for a half decade, and their best homegrown position player since Derek Jeter, but Cano went looking for a 10-year deal at maximum financial value and found it in Seattle. The Yankees weren’t willing to go more than seven years — having learned their lesson with Alex Rodriguez — and so they let Cano get away. The Ellsbury signing turned out to be a sign of things to come, a move made largely because the Yankees realized Cano was likely to sign elsewhere. That finally happened on December 6, when Cano agreed to terms with Seattle and the Yankees found out what it’s like to have another team overpay to take away one of their own.
Worth mentioning: Carlos Beltran finally became a Yankee: Masahiro Tanaka finally became available; Curtis Granderson moved across town to the Mets; Joe Torre was elected to the Hall of Fame
Associated Press photo