First, McDaniel explains that the club's initial strategy was to reach agreement with a group of six players on the same day earlier in the winter. (The league's spending caps continue to drive the agreement timeline earlier, requiring teams to make larger commitments, notes McDaniel.) About $12MM was verbally committed at that point, spread amongst youngsters Dermis Garcia (a Domincan third baseman), Nelson Gomez (same), Juan De Leon (a Dominican center fielder), Jonathan Amundaray (a Venezuelan outfielder), Chris Torres (a Dominican shortstop), and Diego Castillo (a Venezuelan shortstop).
Other teams, too, are rumored to have struck verbal agreements with various players, as McDaniel details. But with several well-regarded talents still purportedly available, sources say that New York may now be planning a "second phase" that could bring the total spend as high as $20MM.
FEBRUARY 7: In an effort to replenish a bleak farm system, the Yankees are preparing to "spend wildly" on the international free agent market this summer, industry sources tell Andrew Marchand and Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com. Kiley McDaniel of Scout.com reported in late December that New York was planning to incur penalties by spending $12MM to $15MM on the approaching 2014-15 international signing period. The new signing season, which kicks off (as always) on July 2, is believed by many to offer a particularly strong crop of talent.
The Yankees are allotted just over $2MM to spend on international free agents this summer, but the ESPNNewYork.com duo reports that the club may spend a staggering $18MM in bonuses as they look to restock their minor league ranks with high-upside talent. Such an expenditure would come with the harshest of penalties laid out in the newest CBA; the Yankees would pay a 100 percent tax on their overage and would not be allowed to sign a player for more than $250K in the following international signing period. While those measures are undoubtedly harsh, they haven't stopped the Cubs and Rangers from spending more than $8MM each on international free agents during the current signing period.
Marchand and Matthews continue by stating that one reason behind the potential spending spree is the fear of an eventual international draft that will remove such tactics as a possibility. While the international draft talks have reportedly been tabled until after the 2016 season, implementing such a big spending strategy in 2014-15 could potentially allow the Yankees to employ the tactic twice more before the draft might become a reality. (In my mind, seeing teams pursue such a tactic may only enhance the industry's desire for an international draft.)
General manager Brian Cashman wouldn't comment on the team's spending plans, but he did go on record as saying that it is "certainly our prerogative" to spend more than the allotted amount. One member of the Yankees organization offered the following anonymous quote:
"We consider it a strategic option. Whether we play it this year hasn't been decided. At some point I would imagine we would. It might make sense. One of the things that is looming is the [international] draft and once that happens, we have the same circumstances as in the U.S."