New York Yankees Will Regret Indifferent Offseason

When Signing Aging Kevin Youkilis Is Team’s Biggest Move, It’s a Winter to Forget

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | The New York Yankees have traditionally been one of baseball's most active players in the offseason free agency and trade markets.

That is, until the last couple of years.

For a franchise that has made the postseason in 17 of the last 18 years, the lack of activity over the winter just past may come back to haunt the Yankees come summer and fall.

While the Toronto Blue Jays went all-in for a division title with their huge trades with the Miami Marlins and New York Mets, bringing in reigning National League Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey, quality starting pitchers Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson, and multiple-time All-Star shortstop Jose Reyes, the Yankees signed ... Kevin Youkilis.

While the Baltimore Orioles looked to improve after a season that saw the O's return to the postseason party for the first time this millennium, the Yankees invited ... Matt Diaz and Juan Rivera to spring training.

While the Boston Red Sox tried to emerge from the rubble of the 2011 September collapse and the 2012 Bobby Valentine Experience by bringing in Ryan Dempster, Joel Hanrahan, Koji Uehara, Stephen Drew, Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino, the Yankees re-signed ... David Aardsma.

While the Tampa Bay Rays made an offer that franchise player Evan Longoria couldn't refuse, the Yankees ... let 35 percent of last year's club-record 245 home runs leave via free agency by not aggressively -- or even passively -- pursuing Nick Swisher, Russell Martin, Eric Chavez or Raul Ibanez.

It certainly doesn't help matters that spring training in Tampa, Fla., has been disastrous from a health standpoint. Outfielder Curtis Granderson broke his arm and is out until May. First baseman Mark Teixeira tore the tendon sheath in his right wrist and could be out until June or later. Shortstop Derek Jeter aggravated his surgically repaired left ankle and may land on the disabled list with Granderson, Teixeira and third baseman Alex Rodriguez instead of taking his familiar place in the middle of the Yankee Stadium diamond on opening day.

That doesn't even get into starting pitcher Phil Hughes missing much of the spring because of a back problem, or prospects David Adams and Mark Montgomery not even really getting a chance to show what they could do because they suffered minor injuries early in spring training.

Outfielder Torii Hunter was interested in coming to the Yankees before signing with the Detroit Tigers. Granderson's injury makes that choice look worse, at least when employing the 20-20 clarity of hindsight.

Swisher scooping throws at first base for the Cleveland Indians could be an awkward sight for Yankees fans if Rivera or Youkilis wind up spending significant time in Teixeira's place.

Martin sporting Pittsburgh Pirates' black and gold might look even more problematic if catchers Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart can't hit their weight. In fairness, Martin had trouble doing that in 2012 but unlike the feather-batted duo the Yankees will rely upon in 2013, Martin at least provided some long-ball pop.

Much of the focus of the last two offseasons in the Bronx has been on getting payroll below the luxury tax threshold of $189 million before new, tougher penalties take effect in 2014.

But in the process, the Yankees may have decimated the product they put on the field for the next few seasons.

Will the tradeoff prove to be worth it? We'll see when the crowds at Yankee Stadium are dressing as empty chairs if the team is out of contention by August.

Phil Watson is a freelance journalist and commentator based in upper Michigan who covers the New York Yankees for the Yahoo Contributor Network.

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