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NY Yankees
Yankees President Defends the Team's Frugal Fall
From the Wall Street Journal of Thu, 18 Dec 2014 22:17:29 EST
Randy Levine
Randy Levine Associated Press

Yankees President Randy Levine has kept a low profile this off-season, letting general manager Brian Cashman handle the job of explaining what has been an unusually penurious fall in the Bronx.

Levine appeared Thursday, though, and he made it clear that Yankees fans probably shouldn’t waste a Christmas wish on Max Scherzer or any other high-price free agent still on the market. Without commenting on specific players the team may or may not be pursuing, Levine said that with a payroll that already figures to be around $200 million, “you have to be realistic.”

Scherzer, the right-hander who went 39-8 for the Tigers the past two seasons, is arguably the most valuable player still on the market. His value likely rose after the Cubs signed Jon Lester to a six-year, $155 million contract last week.

The Yankees won 84 games last season and missed the playoffs for the second straight year. In the past, that would have prompted the organization to open the checkbook for the best talent available. They did it in 2008 and won the World Series the following season with a free-agent haul, including CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira, that helped keep them in the playoffs through 2012.

After they missed the playoffs in 2013, the Yankees once again cracked open the vault, springing more than $400 million for catcher Brian McCann, pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, and outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran. But this off-season has brought a decidedly less spendthrift approach. The Yankees let closer David Robertson go to the Chicago White Sox and signed Andrew Miller to a contract worth $10 million less than what Robertson got. This week the team signed third baseman Chase Headley for the next four years at $52 million—hardly chump change but a far cry from the $95 million the Red Sox committed to Pablo Sandoval.

I have no reason to talk to him. I don’t talk to the players.

—Randy Levine on Alex Rodriguez

Levine expects the Yankees to be “very competitive” in the American League East. He said the team was “decimated” by injuries last season, but if aging veterans such as Teixeira, Beltran and Sabathia can stay healthy, the team can hang with its division rivals. That is a big if, however. The Yankees had one of the oldest rosters in baseball last season, and older players tend to get injured more often.

And what of Alex Rodriguez?

Like Cashman, Levine said he has doesn’t know what to expect from the star-crossed Rodriguez, who is set to return from his one-year suspension. Rodriguez will turn 40 in July. The only option is to “get to spring training and see what happens,” Levine said. “Everything else is speculation.”

Levine hasn’t seen Rodriguez since the legal hearings surrounding the latter’s suspension, and hasn’t spoken to him, either. He cautioned not to read anything into that. “I have no reason to talk to him,” Levine said. “I don’t talk to the players.”

Levine also said he isn’t concerned about Rodriguez’s return causing a distraction. “I’ve been here 15 years,” he said. “It seems like every year we have some kind of distraction.”

Write to Matthew Futterman at

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