The Yankees finally made their big free-agent splash this week, when they signed Kevin Youkilis, an aging third basemen with bad hips, to fill in for Alex Rodriguez, their incumbent aging third basemen with bad hips. OK, maybe it was less a "splash" than a "thud." Youkilis was terrible last year, putting up a career low .745 OPS. He wasn't even the Yankees' first choice at third base, falling behind strikeout-and-error machine Mark Reynolds and longtime part-timer Eric Chavez. Red Sox fans are wailing about another of their heroes going to the Bronx, which is a little much, given that Boston dumped him off on the White Sox in midseason last year. Youk is old and creaky and on the downslope of his career. In other words, he'll fit in just fine with the 2013 Yankees.
So far, the Yankees have lost four of last year's top eight position players in terms of WAR to free agency or serious injury. Nick Swisher, Russell Martin, and Chavez have moved on to other teams, and Alex Rodriguez will likely be out until June after undergoing hip surgery. And we haven't mentioned Derek Jeter, who is now 39 years old and is trying to recover from a serious ankle injury in time for opening day.
But these are the Yankees! They'll just go out and spend a lot of money and make some trades and retool their lineup overnight, right? Here comes Josh Hamilton! Oh, nope. Here comes Michael Bourn! Not exactly. Aside from grabbing Youkilis, the Yankees are expected to re-sign 39-year-old Ichiro Suzuki, find themselves a serviceable catcher, and then stand pat. The team even seems intent on getting its payroll under the $189 million luxury-tax threshold in order to reap financial benefits offered in the new CBA. (Only for the Yankees does austerity mean spending $12 million for a player who had 1.3 WAR last year.)
What this means is that the Yankees are in position to have a very tired, very old lineup next season. They are essentially relying on Robinson Cano and a bounce-back year from the now-29-year-old Brett Gardner—a mere youth compared to the rest of the roster—to be the wind underneath the offense's arthritic wings. Perhaps the plan is to save money and make a run at a few guys in 2014 free-agency class. Until then, there's going to be a whole lot of creaking and limping going on in Yankee Stadium.