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Rounding Third: Yanks get back to business

<p>There was probably a time when the New York Yankees actually believed they would try to stay under the $189 million luxury tax threshold for the 2014 season.</p>

Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - There was probably a time when the New York Yankees actually believed they would try to stay under the $189 million luxury tax threshold for the 2014 season.

But, the likelihood of that essentially went out the window when they missed the playoffs last year and it really became a pipe dream once the Boston Red Sox won the World Series.

Let's be honest, the Steinbrenners weren't going to endure another season like 2013, having to rely on the likes of Chris Stewart, David Adams and Jayson Nix, while television ratings and ticket sales plummeted.

There were some concerns that maybe the younger Steinbrenners didn't value winning as much as their father. Well, maybe we can put that to rest now, because the Yankees are seemingly back to doing what they do best and that is spending money.

They tipped their hats a little to what kind of offseason this was going to be when they signed catcher Brian McCann to a 5-year, $75 million deal right out of the gate. The Yanks officially let everyone know that they indeed meant business on Tuesday, though, when they agreed to a 7-year, $153 million deal with outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury.

Unlike McCann, Ellsbury doesn't exactly fill a need for the Yankees, but he is as dynamic a player as there is in baseball when he's healthy.

And if anyone doesn't think so, go re-watch this past postseason.

Nobody will question Ellsbury's ability. The only concern for him is can he stay on the field for 155 games, something he did once in his seven years with the Red Sox.

It's a risk worth taking, though, especially when you consider that you are taking him away from your biggest rival and the best team in the division. But having Ellsbury in the mix seemingly creates more problems for the Yankees.

The Yanks still need a right fielder, unless of course, you are under the misguided notion that they will enter the year with Ichiro Suzuki and his .297 on-base percentage there.

The assumption is that Brett Gardner will slide over to left, while Alfonso Soriano takes over as a full-time designated hitter, something he has said in the past that he is opposed to.

Not to mention the Yanks are an aging team. They like to use the DH as a way to give guys like Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira or even Alex Rodriguez a break in the field.

Don't be surprised if you start to hear Gardner's name bandied about next week at the Winter Meetings.

Truth be told, New York probably would have been better served giving Carlos Beltran an extra year to play right and skipping Ellsbury altogether.

The way things may be going, though, the Yanks still may be in on Beltran, who supposedly has a 3-year, $48 million deal on the table from the Kansas City Royals. Remember Beltran wanted to be a Yankee so bad back in 2005 that he actually went back to them after being offered a massive deal from the Mets and offered to play for less money.

Would he consider that again?

Either way, it's hard to argue against the deal for Ellsbury.

Of course, the 300-million-pound elephant in the room is how does the Ellsbury signing impact the Yankees' own free agent, Robinson Cano?

Well, the Yankees said that one thing has nothing to do with the other. They are still in on Cano, despite the two sides being nearly $80 million apart. In fact some have said that the Yankees could actually sign Cano, add a frontline pitcher and still be under their goal of $189 million on Opening Day.

It certainly seems like the Yankees are counting on not having to pay A-Rod that $26 million next season.

The good news for Cano on Tuesday was that supposedly the Seattle Mariners have some interest. The bad news for Cano on Tuesday was that the Seattle Mariners are interested. As someone said to me, you don't hire Jay Z to represent you to go and play in Seattle.

It's still the Yankees or nothing for him and I'd be willing to bet that it will be Team Cano that blinks first.

As for Jay Z? Well even if he doesn't get Cano his $300 million, his other high profile client, New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith, seems to be doing just fine.

By the way, aren't the Winter Meetings supposed to be next week?

Ellsbury's agreement capped a wild Tuesday that featured 21 players switching teams and 14 clubs making deals. Baseball executives may be trying to take a little more advantage of the Florida sun, because there doesn't seem to be a whole lot left to talk about next week.

Something tells me they'll think of something, though.

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