When the offseason began in late October, the Yankees were a popular pick to become Manny Machado’s next team as he sought a record contract in free agency. As it turns out, though, the Yankees didn’t pursue Machado as aggressively as many expected them to, and he’s now a member of the Padres after signing a 10-year, $300MM guarantee with them this week.
On Friday, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman spoke about their decision to back off Machado, claiming the team’s league-minimum signing of oft-injured infielder Troy Tulowitzki in early January played a key part, per John Harper of SNY.tv. Tulowitzki was once an elite player, as Machado currently is, but he’s now a 34-year-old coming off a season lost to heel issues. Nevertheless, the Yankees are “banking on the problem being fixed,” according to Cashman, who signed Tulowitzki after the Blue Jays released him and ate nearly all of the $38MM left on his contract. Tulowitzki was one of several offseason acquisitions for the Yankees, though the big-spending franchise didn’t break the bank on any of its pickups – something it often did under late owner George Steinbrenner, who passed away in 2010.
“Those days are gone,” Cashman said of his former boss’ reign, owing to the “completely different” system the league operates under now compared to then. Cashman, who answers to Steinbrenner’s son Hal these days, contends that “the game now rewards — and reward might not be the right word — but it rewards losing. It drags teams that are struggling back up into the winning environment, and penalizes teams that have been winning by pushing them back.” As Harper points out, Cashman was likely alluding to the luxury tax, revenue sharing and the league’s capped spending on draft picks and international signings as detriments to the Yankees and other clubs of their ilk.
More from New York and a couple other AL cities…
- Luke Voit and Greg Bird are competing to be the Yankees’ Opening Day first baseman, and it appears to be an all-or-nothing battle. It’s doubtful the loser will crack the team’s season-opening roster, George A. King III of the New York Post relays, which seems to rule out a platoon between the righty-hitting Voit and the lefty-swinging Bird. It looks as if free-agent signing DJ LeMahieu, a second baseman by trade, could serve as the team’s backup at first, as manager Aaron Boone said Saturday, “I see [DJ] LeMahieu getting some reps there.’’ Boone also declared that Bird is a superior defender to Voit, Coley Harvey of ESPN reports. Still, given that Voit far outdid Bird at the plate in 2018, it would be surprising if the latter wins back his old job coming out of camp. Both players have minor league options remaining, though, so the Yankees wouldn’t have any difficulty demoting the runner-up to Triple-A.
- The Mariners have promoted Joe Bohringer to assistant general manager, per a team announcement. A special assistant to Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto since 2015, Bohringer will take over for Jeff Kingston, who left the M’s to become the Dodgers’ VP/AGM in December. Bohringer’s duties will include overseeing the Mariners’ analytics departments and acting as the primary liaison between their front office and medical staff, the club announced. Bohringer’s in his second run with Seattle, having previously worked as an area scouting supervisor with the franchise from 2002-06. Along with his Mariners stints, he has served in scouting capacities with the Dodgers, Diamondbacks and Cubs at the major league level.
- Longtime FanGraphs writer Jeff Sullivan announced Friday that he has taken a job with the Rays. His departure from FanGraphs is a blow to the many who enjoyed reading his excellent pieces, but it should be a boon for Tampa Bay. While it’s unknown which role Sullivan has taken with the Rays, he’s an intriguing addition to a front office that’s known for its use of analytics and willingness to innovate.