ROSEMONT, Ill. -- While some have described the Blue Jays as an instant contender after Tuesday's mind-blowing trade with the Marlins, the Yankees aren't ready to concede the American League East crown just yet.
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Miami proceeded to finish last in the NL East, and then traded all three, with Reyes and Buehrle joining Josh Johnson, Emilio Bonifacio and John Buck in the mega-swap that also sent nearly $166 million in salary to Toronto. It's hardly a unique story, especially for the Marlins, but a cautionary tale nonetheless.
Not that Miami owner Jeffrey Loria was interested in retelling it after arriving for these meetings. Loria has been vilified for dismantling the Marlins -- again -- and his intention of filling the team's $1 billion retractable-roof ballpark with mostly cheap, unproven talent.
When confronted by reporters, Loria never broke stride, and barely turned around in offering his response. "Not today, boys," Loria snapped. "If you guys haven't figured it out yet, I'm not going to figure it out for you."
Later attempts to corral Loria in the hotel corridors were unsuccessful, and the trade itself had yet to be finalized, with physicals scheduled and the package still under review by the commissioner's office. There was little doubt, however, that the swap would be official in a day or two, and the rest of the AL East would be playing catch up with the Blue Jays.
It's an unusual place to be for the Yankees, who are more accustomed to reloading during the winter rather than watching their neighbors -- other than the Red Sox -- beat them to the punch. One reason for that is the Yankees' desire to get below the $189-million luxury tax threshold for the 2014 season, a mandate Levine repeated Wednesday.
That's influencing the front office's measure of prospective contracts, and how they can limit them in length. As for how quickly all of that gets accomplished, Levine laughed at the idea the Yankees were lagging, despite Torii Hunter signing a two-year, $26-million contract with the Tigers earlier that same day.
"I think we feel good," Levine said. "The tortoise usually wins the race. We have a plan. We're going to try and execute it. We'll react as it happens. We have a pretty good idea of where we want to be and we're working on it. It's not even Thanksgiving yet."
Levine's right. There's plenty of time. And if the Marlins can detonate their roster in 24 hours, the Yankees certainly can make necessary improvements in the next three months.