At the end of perhaps the most frenzied December shopping day in baseball history, the
Half the teams in the major leagues traded, signed or reached agreement with at least one player Tuesday. That list did not count the
At the end of the day, the Yankees jumped to the top of the list, with glitter and floodlights, by securing outfielder
In Ellsbury and catcher
This is not a provincial rant. The Dodgers can match the Yankees, dollar for dollar.
But fans complaining how the Yankees' signing Ellsbury means more of the same big-money teams dominating this time of year and again during the season missed the flurry of moves by the busiest team over the last few days: the back-to-back
In four moves over two days, the A's signed pitcher
List all those names together, and it looks like a heist. Baseball is swimming in cash, so the A's can afford to increase their payroll — not to the point of adding an Ellsbury, but at least to the point of making a good team better.
"We don't have the luxury of signing four or five players to [those kinds of] long-term contracts," said Lew Wolff, A's managing partner. "I honestly think that's better."
What if the Athletics and Yankees suddenly traded bank accounts?
"If we had the money, would we do it? I don't think so," Wolff said, "or, at least, not as frequently as people might think. If we could give a long-term contract to a player getting younger each year, that would be helpful."
That is at the heart of the free-agent dilemma. As teams sign younger stars to lucrative contract extensions, the free-agent classes get smaller and older.
The Yankees just committed to Ellsbury through 36. Cano would like a contract that carries beyond that age. The
If money ensured success, the Red Sox would not have dumped
The Yankees know the risks, and so do the Dodgers, and so do the A's. No team signs a free agent for the better part of a decade and expects premium performance through the entire contract. The Yankees and Dodgers can afford to take the risk, and Wolff does not begrudge them that economic advantage.
"A huge amount of what we do," Wolff said, "is based on the acumen of Billy," referring to General Manager
The A's move pieces around as well as anyone in baseball. Monopoly might be the most attractive game this time of year, but chess can be even more intriguing.