For all of the time spent ranting about the way George Steinbrenner threw money after mediocre free agents or ignored team-building principles when it came to trading prospects for faded heroes, no one made a big deal about the main way the Yankees acted like money wasn't a concern.
That would be their longstanding tradition of not negotiating contracts with players until their contracts expire. A real world equivalent to that kind of behavior would be waiting until your car was totally out of gas even though you knew that you would have to pay 50 percent more a gallon to get gas under those circumstances.
People would think you were a fool to behave that way and it was just as true of the Yankees. They would sit back and ignore the fact that you almost always saved money by securing key players to long-term contracts because they knew they could just trump any offer because of their financial largesse.
That's not the case anymore, a point hammered home on Thursday when Brian Cashman admitted that the team has already made a significant offer to Robinson Cano. It's clear that the Yankees didn't want anyone to know about this change since Cashman immediately clammed up when he learned that Hal Steinbrenner hadn't actually said the same thing last week.
"I'm not going to comment any more," Cashman said. "I thought Hal announced that we made a significant offer and we've had a few conversations. I thought I was restating Hal's stuff. If I said a little more, that's all I’m saying."
The younger Steinbrenner said that the team planned to make a significant offer to Cano so it's not clear why it's supposed to be hush-hush that they have done it, but it was never clear why the Yankees thought they were so smart to wait until the last minute to pay a premium on players. There's no announcement of a new deal in the works -- Scott Boras gave no indication that Cano is prepared to accept this "significant" offer -- but one imagines the Yankees will keep working.
That's because it is the smart way to handle things, but also because the Yankees have finally figured out that the baseball world around them has changed. They aren't the only ones with money anymore and the new world order obviously scares them enough that they're willing to establish a new precedent for the way they'll do business from here on out.
It's overdue, but it's the only way for them to conduct business as long as they insist on keeping their revenues for profit instead of plowing them back into the team as they have for years. They need to act like Tampa or Kansas City and sign promising players way before arbitration and free agency because it is the way to keep costs down while still having good players available to the team.
For a long time, such realities meant as little to the Yankees as the day-to-day financial realities of life mean to billionaires. Now, though, the Yankees are just one of 30 teams and that means a whole new way of doing business.