After signing Masahiro Tanaka on Wednesday for seven years and $155 million, the Yankees have guaranteed an astonishing $450 million to seven free agents this offseason.
General manager Brian Cashman made it clear the team is done with major, costly acquisitions. But will they be significantly better than last year's 85-win team? Are they, to use a very in vogue phrase with owner Hal Steinbrenner, "championship caliber"?
They certainly hope so.
"I think there's an exclamation point that's been made today," Cashman said. "Our work was not complete. We're finished in terms of trying to put a team that people could at least talk about as having a shot to take a run at qualifying for the playoffs and playing into October. We've done a lot of work with [Brian] McCann and [Jacoby] Ellsbury, as well as [Carlos] Beltran, and now Tanaka."
The Yankees also signed lefty reliever Matt Thornton and infielders Brian Roberts and Kelly Johnson. But Cashman admitted they have concerns in the bullpen (with Mariano Rivera retired) and infield (with Robinson Cano in Seattle, Derek Jeter coming back from an injury-wrecked season at age 40 and Alex Rodriguez suspended for the season).
"I think people want to see how the bullpen's going to shake out," Cashman said. "People are going to want to see how the infield's going to shake out . . . What's Brian Roberts going to be? What's Derek Jeter going to be as he comes back from his injury? What's Mark Teixeira going to be at first base as he comes back from his wrist [injury]? Can Kelly Johnson secure and handle on a consistent basis third base? . . . Speaking to the obvious questions that people would have every right to ask."
As for the bullpen, David Robertson has all but been anointed as Rivera's replacement as closer -- even if Cashman won't just hand the former setup man the job.
"That's our hopes and expectations," Cashman said. "But he understands he's got to come in and compete for it and lock it down and earn it."
It's unclear who, if anyone, would be competing with Robertson. Cashman pretty much guaranteed the Yankees will not make a run at an available free-agent closer such as Grant Balfour or Fernando Rodney. The only other experienced relievers on the roster are Thornton and Shawn Kelley.
"I think clearly a lot of heavy lifting needed to take place this winter," Cashman said. "And it has taken place. We're always looking to improve. I don't think it's realistic to think that there's any more heavy lifting that can take place. But I also don't want to say that we're not going to try to improve ourselves. But we're just going to have to do it in a much cheaper way going forward."