We’ve reached the time of the Major League Baseball season when teams decide whether they’re going to make a push for the playoffs or set up a fire sale. As usual, the New York Yankees have been major players in this year’s trade market–but not for the reasons to which we’re accustomed. Most years, the Yankees are in spend as much as possible mode; not this year. This year, the Yankees traded away Carlos Beltran, Andrew Miller, Ivan Nova, and Aroldis Chapman for a number of promising minor leaguers and players who don’t exactly suggest a ‘win now’ mentality. These moves are a clear sign that the team’s management is no longer going for it all this year, but instead entering a rebuilding phase.
As a lifelong Yankee fan, I’ve become used to the team spending huge sums of money to acquire the top free agents available–and if we didn’t get them, we were definitely among the highest bidders. The shift away from this approach began with the unfortunate 2010 passing of George Steinbrenner, at which point his sons Hal and Hank took over the club. Under George, the Yankees had a ‘win at all costs’ mentality which the organization took quite literally. We often hated his brashness, and his willingness to butt into team affairs and call out managers and players alike; but it helped contribute to the formation of teams with signature players like Derek Jeter, Don Mattingly, Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada, and Mariano Rivera. This created a new era of Yankee greatness, the first since the long-ago days of Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle. In hindsight, it seems even more undeniable that there was a method to King George’s madness. And with their first trade-deadline rebuild in a generation–along with the announcement that Alex Rodriguez is being sent out to pasture at 696 home runs–we are, at last, witnessing the end of the George Steinbrenner era of Yankee baseball.
Growing up, I never thought I’d see a time in which the Yankees would be fighting for relevancy. But I don’t see things looking up for them in the near future, and it makes me appreciate their past even more.