In Roderick Arias, the Yankees just signed the last of their future top-ranked international prospects
For better or worse, in recent years, the Yankees have played a strategy of outbidding everyone for the top Latino free agent teenager on the international market, searching for the next future star. Two years ago, it was CF Jasson Dominiquez, whose great looming achievement will be to soon turn 19.
This weekend, they landed Roderick Arias.
You can read a boatload of hype about Arias, a switch-hitting human YouTube channel, who plays SS. He checks all the boxes - speed, arm, power, bat, figure, legs, voice, singer-songwriter, etc. - at age 17. Of course, in the words of Janis Ian, "I learned the truth at seventeen, That love was meant for beauty queens, And high school girls with clear skinned smiles, Who married young and then retired." Can anybody say Jesus "Ice Cream Sandwich" Montero?
Immediately, Arias will ascend to a high slot in the Yankiverse, ranked on the prospect Top 10 list - maybe the Top 5, depending on how much the hype machine consumes its own bullshit. Let's wish him luck. The Yankees invested $4 million in him. Let's hope the strategy works.
This will almost surely be the last time to play it. Next year, as part of the new Players Union agreement, MLB will probably set up an international draft. The owners hate bidding wars on 17-year-olds, and the players would prefer the money go their way. So a draft - which continues to lessen the financial advantages of big market franchises - will likely happen.
Unless they tank, the Yankees next year will sign the 15th or 16th top Latino teenager.
It's worth noting that Hal Steinbrenner is one of the architects of these changes. In November, Hal voted to lower the MLB luxury tax threshold, which he has used as an excuse to spend less money. Thus, Hal voted to lessen his team's fiscal advantage. It's all about money; never forget that.
The Yankees will pitch overboard tradition, fans, and the city that supports them - if the team can make more money. Those 27 world championships are becoming as about as relevant as the Boston Celtics' dynasty of the 1960s. But who knows, maybe Roderick Arias will be the savior that Jesus couldn't be. We learn the truths at seventeen...