Yankees Set To Shop In Bargain Basement Of Non-Tendered Players

The Yankees will be one of the teams scouring the MLB transaction wire looking for new non-tendered free-agents. Who would have thought… 

In almost any other year at this time, the Yankees would be accelerating their efforts to sign players in the top tier of this year’s Class of 2021 free-agents not named DJ LeMahieu, who belongs in a category all its own for the Yankees.

Hal Steinbrenner & Brian Cashman - Blending Perfectly Photo Credit: The Captain's Blog
Hal Steinbrenner & Brian Cashman – Blending Perfectly Photo Credit: The Captain’s Blog

Reminders of last year’s efforts by the Yankees and Brian Cashman to whisk away Gerrit Cole, with cross-country visits and bottles of his (previously researched) favorite wine, would now be concentrated on Trevor Bauer, J.T. Realmuto – or perhaps both.

Not today, though. The baseball landscape has changed, and even the richest of teams has established an edict from above to keep the team payroll under the luxury tax threshold, set this year at $210 million.

The Yankees managing partner, Hal Steinbrenner, has cited losses last year claiming to be just under a billion dollars.

Given the uncertainty surrounding the 2021 MLB season due to the ever-persistent COVID-19 pandemic, the Yankees are looking to save money (now) any which way they can.

The Yankees will have their chance as of 8 pm tonight to do just that when teams clear their roster by non-tendering contracts to arbitration-eligible players, thereby automatically making them free agents.

Stand-By: Everything Is About To Change

By Thursday morning, the MLB Transaction Wire will be lit up with the newly added available players’ names.

Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez: Looking high for an answer (Sportscasting)
Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez: Looking high for an answer (Sportscasting)

The Yankees themselves could be adding to the list by refusing to tender a contract to Gary Sanchez, Luis Cessa, and Jonathan Holder.

Of the three, the most drama is attached to Sanchez. Aside from the over-the-top support thrust on Sanchez by Yankees manager Aaron Boone, the consensus of scouts and fans overwhelmingly points to a much-needed change, with the Yankees non-tendering Sanchez.

But this is baseball being set for play and profit 2021.

So, when the Yankees look at Sanchez’s salary (projected to be via arbitration $5.5-6 million) versus what they’d be paying Realmuoto, or even White Sox All-Star catcher James McCann, Sanchez gets the nod, albeit by default.

The Yankees Status Versus The Luxury Tax

The exact status of the Yankees payroll versus the luxury tax threshold is subject to the eye of the beholder in terms of what’s what.

As you look at the table below as sourced by Spotrac, the top portion tells an entirely different story than the numbers shown in the bottom portion.

Yankees On The Lookout For Bargains

Regardless of where the Yankees stand per the source you are reading or referred to, this Yankees team will employ their entire scouting and analytics people to uncover the silver that could turn into gold for them in 2021.

Like the expected dump by the Cubs of Kyle Schwarber, some will be of little use or interest to the Yankees.

But should a name pop up that can translate to a “serviceable,” though not the blockbuster savior for the upcoming season, the Yankees figure to be all in.

Yankees Fans: Will They Buy Into This Period Of Austerity

The gamble the team is taking rests with their loyal fanbase and their willingness to buy into this sudden and unfamiliar stance of the highest valued franchise in major league baseball today.

Yankees 2021 - Rolling The Dice
Yankees 2021 – Rolling The Dice

For instance, how much leeway will the media and fans give a player like Gary Sanchez if he happens to get off to a start that continues his horrid batting approach from last year?

Or, what will be the consequences when the Boston Red Sox or Toronto Blue Jays sign Bauer, Masahiro Tanaka, or Realmuto while the Yankees stand by idly placing full faith in a roster eerily similar to the one that finished the season last year?

Yankees: Let The Plan Unfold

Most of us, including this writer, have long given up believing we know more than Cashman and his staff when it comes to filling the team’s roster.

Nevertheless, when the full view of every available 2021 free-agent is there for all of us to see tomorrow morning, there will be fodder for enthusiastic debate and controversy.

Most Yankees fans “get” the need for caution in these deaf and blind times where no one and no team can come close to predicting what the 2021 season will look like.

In golf, there’s always a mulligan among gentlemen. In baseball?

The Yankees appear to be gambling, so the thinking goes we owe them one. I wouldn’t be so sure, and neither should the Yankees, given the fact the team’s last World Title was during the first year of the Obama Administration.


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Author: stevecontursi

I am an amateur writer with a passion for baseball and all things Yankees and Mets.