The Yankees are no longer the only baseball goliath in New York City

In other New York baseball news, the Yankees officially announced the largest signing in franchise history and concurrently named Aaron Judge the 16th captain in team history.

The Yankees made history… officially twice.

But by then, the Mets had made us gasp.

It is hard to overshadow Judge or the Yankees or a record contract or the captaincy of the most important franchise in the sport. But we had known for two-plus weeks that Judge was returning on a nine-year, $360 million pact. And for pretty much just as long as it was understood the captaincy was a perk likely to be attached.

But we had believed for a week that Carlos Correa was a Giant. Then Mets fans went to bed Tuesday thinking how nice it was to have Adam Ottavino back and woke up to (let me clear my eyes again) … that Carlos Correa had been signed. The Giants had canceled their Tuesday press conference to announce Correa due to concerns in his physical. Suddenly, one of the best shortstops in the game was the Mets third baseman. So, yeah, the Judge press conference was now anticlimactic.

In about five overnight hours, Cohen had made the most shocking move by a New York baseball team since … Maybe the 2003-04 offseason. The Red Sox had Alex Rodriguez pretty much locked up a trade with the Rangers. The MLB Players Association vetoed the deal because it involved A-Rod taking a pay cut. The Yankees had just lost their third baseman, Aaron Boone, to an offseason knee injury.

New York Yankee Aaron Judge, adjusts his cap as he poses for a photo with Hal Steinbrenner, after the Yankees announced Judge resigned with the Yankees and made him captain of the team, during a press conference at Yankee Stadium.
The Yankees’ official announcement of Aaron Judge’s record contract and captaincy may have been relegated to secondary New York baseball status.
Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

So they saw an avenue and followed the kind of overkill strategy that is now becoming Cohen’s blueprint, too. They forged a deal to put A-Rod at third next to the entrenched star shortstop, Derek Jeter, as sure as Cohen did by negotiating a 12-year, $315 million deal done with Scott Boras (also A-Rod’s agent back then) to station Correa at third next to Francisco Lindor.

“It doesn’t bother me,” Hal Steinbrenner said of having his organization’s big day crashed from the other side of the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge. “Steve has put together a great team. We have a great team, too. So it doesn’t matter. The timing is what it is. I’m focused on today. All I know is that our fans are very excited.”

This is not about which team owns New York. The town is big enough for both. I suspect six million fans combined will visit Citi Field and Yankee Stadium this coming season. I expect my email in-box will be filled with rah-rah 2023 ratings statements from SNY and YES. The sound from the Judge’s Chamber will not drown out the trumpets for Edwin Diaz or vice versa.

But it is clear that the Yankees are not running unopposed any longer, as has been the case much of the last three decades. Brian Cashman tried to make the case that Hal was like his father in the multiple one-on-one charm offensives he put on Judge to make sure his biggest star would not leave. Normally Hal is as exciting as oatmeal. But getting Judge done while he was on vacation in Italy provided a nice international man of mystery to this retention.

Still, in theatrics and unleashed star-chasing fervor, Cohen is George Steinbrenner way more than Hal Steinbrenner is. Landing a player such as Carlos Correa while on a Hawaiian vacation in the hours just before a huge press conference by the crosstown rival would have appealed to George even more than a blue blazer.

“We’re really proud about what we’re doing and how we’re going about it and the people we are able to retain or import, and we’re certainly hoping when the dust settles like the [Mets] are … that we have a chance to compete for [a championship]Cashman said. “I know they feel they obviously have a chance to compete for that.”

What it means is that both teams are operating under the George Steinrbenner doctrine. The Yankees have it every year — win or bust. The Yankees have not won it all since 2009, which is treated by Yankee fans as if it happened during the Lincoln administration. Cashman insisted that his offseason budget from the outset also had enough to secure Carlos Rodon and that Hal was not chasing the king of Queens by increasing the payroll. Still, the Yankees’ pressure only grows with projections for the largest payroll in franchise history.

Except you can argue that no team in major league history has had the pressure to win that the 2023 Mets will face. The Mets’ payroll is $100 million-plus more than the Yankees in second place. They are facing a tax bill of $110 million or so. Their total player outlay now is about $500 million. That is half a billion for those doing the math at home.

But this is life in baseball central now. Press conferences for Kodai Senga and Justin Verlander on Monday and Tuesday in Queens. Press conferences for Judge and Rodon on Wednesday and Thursday in the Bronx. In between, came the shocking revelation that Correa is a Met — and, heck, his press conference might just be Friday.

Oh yeah, Judge also was named Yankee captain.


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