This is not an article with a grand conclusion. This isn't going to make you take a sip of coffee just so you can spit it out in surprise. This is a column that could have existed six months ago with just a few "could"s, "should"s, and "likely"s sprinkled in the text. There aren't going to be any surprises. We knew it was coming. I just couldn't mentally prepare enough, apparently.
In the post-George era, the Yankees have been very vocal about getting under the luxury tax. They were committed. And when you looked at their roster and saw you could almost get halfway there with Alex Rodriguez, CC Sabathia, and Mark Texeira alone, you weren't alone if you figured, yeah, right. There was going to be a need that money could fix, and the Yankees would use money to fix it.
When the Yankees revealed that Alex Rodriguez would miss a substantial chunk of the 2013 season, that seemed like a problem money could fix. The Yankees used to deal with something like that as if it were a wobbly chair. Get a stack of money that's just the right size, slip it under the short leg, and your troubles are over!
Then the Yankees got outbid by the Pirates for Russell Martin. They lost out on Jeff Keppinger and Eric Chavez on the same day, and they might not have made an offer. The 2003 Yankees would have signed Chavez first, then looked for a better option just to be sure.
The 2013 Yankees aren't going to sign someone just to sign someone. They were serious. They'll still sign someone to a small deal, but they're going to be a normal team about it.
But that doesn't mean there isn't a stalking Goliath in the Winter Meetings. For years, it was the Yankees who were supposed to sign Barry Zito, who were forever lurking around Johan Santana, who were going to bid up Carl Crawford just because they could. They were the Keyser Soze of the offseason, a team whose mere mention caused other teams to add on an extra year or lock up their young players a year before they had to. Now it's the Dodgers.
Think about the Zack Greinke chatter. The Dodgers are the overwhelming favorites to land the best pitcher on the market, and there are three things to note:
1. The Dodgers are interested even though they'll likely have to give out a bigger deal to Clayton Kershaw after 2014.
2. The bidding might get over the $160 million mark, which would make Greinke the highest-paid pitcher in history.
3. The Dodgers already have six starting pitchers under contract. Chad Billingsley might not be healthy to start the season, but they traded for or gave a new contract to four of the other pitchers within the past year.
Those three things, when you add them up, equal a team that just doesn't give a damn. Which, again, was what they've been saying all along. It's not like the new owners were quiet after the sale, and then they showed up in Nashville wearing the purple fedora of mystery like the Marlins did last year. They said they were going to spend, and now they're spending. The rotation is full, but that doesn't matter to a financial bully. They want Greinke, they get Greinke.
And I don't see how they don't get Greinke. They want him. And they're not going to lose him because they're a Chris Capuano away from the next team's best offer.
Just as the Yankees got out of the business of being ludicrous, the Dodgers jumped right back in. Bud Selig was *this* close to getting a de facto salary cap to go with his record revenues. I can't help but wonder what he thinks about the Dodgers. This is certainly preferable to the McCourt mess, but it's probably not the ideal situation.
As long as there's an offseason bogeyman to scare the other 29 teams, salaries will go up. That's how it's been for the last 15 years. There's a new bogeyman for the first time, though. It's not going to change anything that drastically. It wasn't exactly a surprise. But there's a decent chance that when the Dodgers go into Yankee Stadium next June, Zack Greinke will be on the mound for the Dodgers, and he'll be trying to retire Chris Stewart or Francisco Cervelli.
And when it happens, you'll say something like, "Holy crap, the Dodgers are the Yankees, and the Yankees are a normal team now."