|Masahiro Tanaka pitches for|
Team Japan in 2009.
There was talk of Tanaka going to the Dodgers, and the Cubs were said to be prepared to outbid everybody, but it's never a surprise when the Yankees come out of a free agent auction with the winter's top prize.
But this is not buying a title, a charge often laid against the Yankees.There's no title at the end of this route.
The Yankees spent a lot of money this winter — on Jacoby Ellsbury, on Brian McCann, on Carlos Beltran, on Tanaka —yet they remain a largely flawed team, one heavily dependent on long-shot returns to form by aging, injury prone stars in decline. Derek Jeter. Mark Teixeira. CC Sabathia. Brian Roberts. Robinson Cano is gone, Mariano Rivera is gone, Andy Pettitte is gone, Curtis Granderson is gone.
Tote up the additions and subtractions, and I don't see the Yankees as better than the Red Sox or the Rays.
Meanwhile, the notion that the Yankees will get under the luxury tax line is dispelled. Perhaps knowing that will free them up to chase the remaining comes-with-a-price free agents. On the other hand, as Tyler Kepner of the New York Times details here, the Yanks have already spent some $500 million this offseason, between free agents and luxury tax bills. And the signings they've made already have cost them their first three draft picks in June (although they'll get one back for losing Cano).
I love this comment in the Kepner piece:
This is what the Yankees do. They understand there is a better and cheaper way, they just cannot execute it.