The Mets And Yankees see a crack in the free agency logjam that could stabilize their team for the next decade.
The Yankees have already turned the corner, and the Mets are soon to follow with an intensifying push to lock up their best talent with extensions before they reach what has become the unknown world of free agency.
The Yankees have moved quickly to sign Luis Severino (four years $40 million) and more recently, Aaron Hicks, the most underrated center fielder in the big leagues, to a seven-year deal worth $70 million.
The theory is simple. From the player’s standpoint, the old cliche rings true – a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush especially when they see what’s happening to free agents over the past two offseasons, where the rewards are rarely equaling the risks.
And for the owners and general managers, extensions mean they can budget more efficiently into the future, knowing, for instance, their exposure to the luxury tax threshold, while also avoiding the expense and often fractious years of arbitration with the players they covet.
Baseball always seems to have a way to self-correct itself when things begin to get out of hand. Players like Manny Machado and Bryce Harper might just be the last of a dying breed. And the number of teams out there willing to offer ten-year contracts – they’re just not there anymore – as both the Mets and Yankees have demonstrated this offseason.
After all, when you have only the Padres, White Sox, and Phillies as serious players in the Machado sweepstakes, players aren’t stupid. If that’s him – a superstar – what’s it gonna be like for me when I get there?
Soon, if they are not doing so already, the Mets and Yankees will be looking to wrap up more of their core players. And because it’s a two-way street with owners putting out good sums of money, there will not be offers made to everyone.
Aaron Judge looms as the toughest nut for the Yankees to crack. Following this season, Judge enters three years of arbitration, and it’s not unreasonable to think he will be approaching $25 million when all is said and done.
There are times, as in this game, when Aaron Judge appears to be playing his own game on another planet, meaning one way or another, Judge is going to cost the Yankees…
Didi Gregorius reaches free agency after this season and is a likely target of the Yankees, while Gary Sanchez is in limbo until he puts together a full season both offensively and defensively, earning extension status.
Remember, players are winning 60 percent of their cases against owners, and with the demise of free agency, it’s not unreasonable to believe arbiters will not continue with their benevolence.
The Mets and Yankees both have GM’s who play the entire field when it comes to player personnel. Each is more inclined to look at trades before plunging into the depths of the free agent market, and that’s likely to continue. And why not, when we consider the gains made over the winter.
The Mets and Yankees both have deep pockets, and if a Mike Trout should fall into either one’s hands, say thank you. Instead, a better strategy might be to maintain and keep what you know and trust you have, because, in this game, the grass is not necessarily greener on the other side anymore, for both owners and players.
Otherwise, the Mets and Yankees will continue to forge new ground in the ever-changing baseball landscape by offering fair and mind relaxing contracts to their very best.