They did it again.
The New York Yankees, standing on the periphery of the Mark Teixeira Sweepstakes for much of the time after buying two-fifths of their starting rotation, have signed the All-Star first baseman to an 8-year, $180 million contract, first reported by ESPN’s Buster Olney.
Even the most casual of baseball observers could tell you that this is nothing new, although it seemed clear since the winter meetings that it was down to the Red Sox and Nationals to win the services of the switch-hitting slugger who also happens to tote a gold glove.
Just think, the Yankees now boast the four largest contracts in baseball:
Alex Rodriguez — $275 million
Derek Jeter — $189 million
Mark Teixeira — $180 million
CC Sabathia — $161 million
It’s mind-boggling, of course, considering we’re all in the worst economic times in our lifetimes. But — and this is a big but — the Yankees aren’t a part of the economic woes. Combining their TV network, the Yes! Network, the Yankees are a $4 billion entity. They make money. And before the free agent barrage — a combined $423.5 million to three guys — the Yanks had cleared $90 from last season’s payroll.
So think about it, with Teixeira at $22.5 million, Sabathia at $21.125 million and A.J. Burnett at $16.5 million, the Yankees’ payroll will be in the neighborhood of $30 million less than last year. And they enter a new stadium next year, one with seats behind home plate going for $2,500 per.
So while they say they are out of the running of signing Manny Ramirez or Derek Lowe and are setting their sights lower on the Andy Pettittes of the world, don’t think for a second that another bombshell can’t possibly be around the corner.
What’s interesting is, though, what to do in the future? Not that the Yankees have ever considered their future beyond the next 162 games, but with Teixiera locked in a first base, what do the Yanks do with Jorge Posada, who needs to change to positions? Jeter, who will need to do the same thing? And A-Rod? He can’t play third forever, and first base would have been perfect for him following Jetes, who would follow Posada. If first base was good enough for Ernie Banks and Pete Rose, it’s good enough for the others.
But there’s nowhere for those guys to go now, and only one guy can DH. So the Yanks will have some tough decisions to make.
But those are a long way off today.
Still, there are chinks there, baseball fans. Take some comfort in the fact that the Yanks have been splurging more and more the last seven years, and have won nothing of consequence. They will age in a hurry in the middle of their lineup and infield, and it’s unclear if there’s a significant player behind that infield. (Xaiver Nady, maybe.)
And one other thing — the Yankees are supposed to win. Always. So when they fail, it will be that much more dramatic and caustic. And if they win, well, they should win, because they spend more than everybody.
That said, there are a few who cannot, must not and should not complain about the Yankees and their free-spending ways.
The Red Sox.
Yes, the Red Sox.
Remember, they had A-Rod in a trade from Texas before the players’ union stepped in. They wanted Carl Pavano, not to mention wanting to resign Johnny Damon, just as much. And we all know they were hot after Teixeira.
Missing out on those moves helped the Sox. There’s no denying it.
So don’t whine about the Evil Empire.
They’ll just spend more.
So just beat them. Like most teams have been lately.
But at the same time, don’t fault the Yankees, either. This is the system that baseball has been under since Abner Doubleday didn’t invent the game, and the Yankees have been consistent winners because of it.
So while you think of the poor Royals and Pirates fans, remember one thing as well — the Yankees are always trying to win. Always. And they do whatever it takes.
Fans of every team wish their club would do the same thing.