The next two years are critical, and I think it’s the reason you see news like this:
What do I mean? I mean the Yankees were in the running for Ted Lilly, and he wanted to come there. I even saw rumors that the Yanks had made a similar offer. In the past, the Yanks would have upped the offer slightly, gone to 4/44 and signed him. Not now. Because the Yanks don’t want to be on the hook for 4/44 anymore. I bet they much preferred to get Pettitte (and Lilly was insurance in case Pettite retired) for one or two years. Two. Two is the max. Once Pettitte decided he was going to pitch next year, I bet the Yanks stopped pursuing Lilly, and are now focused on Pettitte. My bet is they sign him for 2 years at something like 13 per.
Why two years? Why am I so focused on this “magic” number? Because in two years, the dead weight that is Jason Giambi and his enourmously backloaded contract (he’s at $21m per, now)comes off the books. That’s when Carl Pavano’s contract is done. That’s when Mike Mussina’s new contract is done. Kyle Farnsworth, too. And, Abreu and Johnson will be done in ’07.
What that means is the Yankees have some payroll and roster flexibility on the horizon, and I bet Cashman doesn’t want to blow it. I bet this offseason and next, the Yankees are cautious shoppers, not blowing the bank on long, backloaded contracts and major free-agent signings. (Even Richie Sexson, who the Yanks are rumored to covet at first base…wow, that would be much better than Craig Wilson…is only signed for the next two years.)
Hey, just my theory. I might get proven wrong if they go and blow it (ed. note: like on Barry Zito). But that’s just what I think.
The question is then what do they plan on doing with that “Cap Space” sotospeak? I don’t know what the FA class after the 2008 season (though the 2007 class looks strong: Vernon Wells and Carlos Zambrano are my faves) will look like, but there is one potential Big Fish already being talked about: Johan Santana.
Now that’s someone I would save my money for.