The 2018 season ended with a whimper not a bang as the New York Yankees found themselves eliminated from the playoff race by the Boston Red Sox in Major League Baseball’s American League Division Series.
Owner Hal Steinbrenner was disappointed and expressed his dissatisfaction with the ALDS result, telling the NYPost.com’s Joel Sherman that the loss “certainly pisses me off.”
In a number of interviews, notably with YES network’s Meredith Marokovitzs on December 5th, Steinbrenner said that the Yankees will “field a championship caliber team” and he believed that the 2018 team was a championship caliber team that didn’t live up to it’s potential.
Steinbrenner told NYPost.com’s Greg Joyce on October 13:
“Look, my family has always been willing to take money that comes off the payroll and put it back in,” Steinbrenner said Friday on “The Michael Kay Show” on ESPN 98.7 FM. “We’re going to do our best to field a championship-caliber team every single year. This coming year is going to be no different than last.”
True to his word, Steinbrenner and the Yankees stayed the course from 2018 by resigning veterans Brett Gardner, CC Sabathia and JA Happ, then made their only splash of the offseason early (November 19) by acquiring James Paxton in a trade with the Seattle Mariners.
However, the offseason’s biggest free agent stars, Manny Machado and Bryce Harper remain unsigned and Yankee fans, many caught up in the media frenzy surrounding these superstars, are frustrated that a truly spectacular move has not been made to propel this team from “championship-caliber” to champions.
Hot stove season is in a deep freeze at the moment for Yankee fans who are clamoring for the team to step up and sign not only Machado and/or Harper, but also relief pitchers, such as Zach Britton and Adam Ottavino.
And it’s not just the Yankees fans that feel the frustration with the cold stove, fans across MLB feel the chill as well. Travis Sawchik of fivethirtyeight.com said that “Free agency has become more and more a battleground between teams and players,” especially as the trend set in 2017 of waiting out the market has extended into the 2018 offseason.
Even superstars are having to wait, Sawchik says:
“and teams seem to have learned, collectively, to wait out free agents. Thirty-five free agents signed guaranteed major league deals last year between Feb. 1 and opening day,2 compared with 18 in 2017, 13 in 2016, 10 in 2015 and 13 in 2014. The longer free agents wait, the fewer dollars they’re typically awarded.”
While perhaps a tectonic shift is taking place in MLB with respect to free agents, these are topics for the lawyers, Yankee fans have stars in their eyes and are restless to see them in pinstripes. I have even seen it suggested by fans, unrealistically, I might add, that there be a signing deadline, such as January 1 for all free agents.
Whatever the solution to the cold stove, Yankee fans are eager to see Steinbrenner and the Yankees field not only a “championship-caliber” team, but champions, such as Machado, Harper, Britton, and Ottavino, elite players at the top of their game now.