New York Post Sports Section By Joel Sherman December 8, 2016
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — The Rule 5 draft concludes the Winter Meetings and attracts pretty much every scout, executive and media member on assignment to a large ballroom for one final flurry of hellos, goodbyes, business and gossip.
In the bottleneck on the way into the room Thursday morning, Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski spotted Yankees counterpart Brian Cashman. It had been less than 12 hours since word circulated the Yankees had agreed with Aroldis Chapman on a five-year, $86 million deal — a record for a reliever — and two days since Cashman had referred to the Red Sox as baseball’s Golden State Warriors with Chris Sale joining an already starry roster.
Dombrowski wrapped an arm around his longtime friend and rival and pronounced, “The monster is back.”
While a terrific line, it was not exactly true. After being the only team not to sign a major league free agent last offseason and being a seller at this past season’s trade deadline, the Yankees returned to more familiar territory to win the bidding. The Yankees figured the surprise pursuit of the Marlins, who offered $1 million more but in a different structure, forced them to pay perhaps $10 million to $15 million more on Chapman.
Nevertheless, it hardly relaunched The Rivalry. On paper, at least, the Red Sox remain better. All the Yankees did was exactly what they told us they would: Add players to the two areas they believed could help the 2017 club — closer and DH (Matt Holliday) — without blocking a ready prospect. They would like to add a starting pitcher and more relievers, especially a lefty, but Cashman said the starter market is so thin and/or expensive, it is unlikely.
Mostly, the Yankees continue to try to get to the point where the Red Sox are with both a core of talented youngsters thriving in the majors and enough minor league depth that acquiring a piece or two would shift their perception from good to upper-end contenders. They want to believe that begins in earnest next offseason. Thus, the only Monster in the AL East remains the Green one at Fenway Park — and perhaps the team that plays there.