The Yankees Won't Sign Manny ... They Can't
Thought I'd address a couple of points made by comments below. It's true that other outlets are reporting comments from Yankees GM Brian Cashman claiming New York could sign up to eight free agents. Peter Abraham of the Journal News in particular claims that Cashman himself is saying that the team can continue to sign free agents if they choose, and Bloom has updated his original story to say that a unilateral exception to the rule was made this year, setting the stage for up to eight free agents to sign with any team. So Abraham's reporting seems to check out. That would keep the Yankees in the mix for anyone they wanted, so we'll see if they make yet another late push, though there certainly are no noises indicating they will.
As for compensation, that was never the case with any of the free agents who weren't offered arbitration, like Abreu, et al. This isn't a case of draft picks, it's a case of whether a team actually could sign a fourth free agent, and it seems as if they can.
Yes, it's a startling headline to say that the Yankees can't do anything during the offseason, but this may actually be a truism. The Yankees can not, in fact, add free agent outfielder and longtime Yankee killer Manny Ramirez because they can't sign another Type A or B free agent this offseason.
At least that's the story being perpetuated by MLB.com's Barry M. Bloom, who claims that New York has reached it's free agent quota for the 2009 season. Bloom claims that, by signing three Type A's -- CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Mark Teixeira -- the Yankees instantly took themselves out of consideration for Ramirez and Ben Sheets. And you know what? Bloom's right. According to the Basic Agreement -- and equally important, as reinforced by a Major League Baseball official to Bloom himself -- "if there are from 39 to 62 [Type A and B] players [during a given offseason], no team can sign more than three." That doesn't take any of a team's own free agents into consideration -- a team can re-sign as many of your own free agents as you like without dipping into its quota -- but the Yankees passed on that option, with the notable except of Andy Pettitte (which is why they could re-sign him; he was most recently a Yankee).
The most interesting part of the story, however, is that the three player quota itself may have been incorrectly instituted. According to MLB's executivce vice president of labor relations, Rob Manfred, there were actually 63 Type A and B free agents, which would have created a new precedent and allowed New York to file a motion to allow them a fourth free agent slot.
Why didn't they? According to Manfred, they just didn't ask.
"If there were more than 62 this year, we should have agreed on an increased quota," Manfred said. "We did not. I think if [the Yankees] were contemplating signing another Type A player, they would've read the agreement and asked us what we wanted to do. They would've said they wanted to sign a fourth player and we would've had to do something with the union."
For what it's worth, these are the remaining Type A and B free agents still on the market, with the previous teams in parentheses, just so we know who they could re-sign with outside any quota:
- Bobby Abreu (Yankees)
- Orlando Cabrera (White Sox)
- Juan Cruz (Diamondbacks)
- Adam Dunn (Diamondbacks)
- Orlando Hudson (Diamondbacks)
- Mike Mussina (Yankees, retired)
- Oliver Perez (Mets)
- Ben Sheets (Brewers)
- Jason Varitek (Red Sox)
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