By Sweeny Murti
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Forty years ago Tuesday, the Yankees made the move that has pretty much defined what everyone seems to believe the Yankees will do every winter. They brought the big star to Broadway.
On Nov. 29, 1976, the Yankees introduced Reggie Jackson, signed to a new five-year contract worth just under $3 million dollars (that's total value over five years, by the way). It was a monstrous contract at the time. It was the dawn of free agency, and George Steinbrenner and his Yankees weren't afraid to jump into the deep end while others merely dipped their toes in the water.
Reggie didn't come to New York to become a star. He already was one. He even said it that day 40 years ago, that he was bringing his star with him.
Never before had something like this happened in Yankees history. Their stars were homemade — Gehrig, DiMaggio, Berra, Mantle. And, yes, Babe Ruth came from Boston, but he was hardly the star he would become after coming to New York.
Signing Jackson signaled a new way of doing business, and the Yankees have been continuing along that line for an awfully long time — Dave Winfield, Jason Giambi, Hideki Matsui, Alex Rodriguez. The biggest names in the game seem to find their way here time and time again.
Lately, there seems to be a different way of doing business. It doesn't seem like that long ago that the Yankees threw a small nation's GNP at Masahiro Tanaka, Jacoby Ellsbury and Brian McCann. It was only three years ago actually, but those Yankees aren't these Yankees.
These Yankees are so careful they didn't sign a single free agent last year, and we are still waiting for their first one of this winter. But that will all change soon, maybe before or during the winter meetings, which begin next week. The Yankees are pushing hard for closer Aroldis Chapman to return, and that would be a big move except it's not a shiny new toy. It's just something to get the band back together after they split up last summer.
There are other names out there for the Yankees as they pursue a bat — Edwin Encarnacion, Yoenis Cespedes, Carlos Beltran, Mike Napoli. Any of them, or others, could make a big impact.
But it's not Reggie Jackson big.
There will come a day when the Yankees are once again the team that brings the big star to New York. Bryce Harper, Manny Machado and the drool-worthy free agent class comes your way in two years. By that time the Yankees will have hit the reset button on their financial structure, they will have seen some of their young talent blossom, and they will be ready to make the kind of move we have expected them to make for the last 40 years.
By the way, has anyone brought up the idea of trading for Mike Trout? ????
Follow Sweeny on Twitter at @YankeesWFAN
"The Making of Mr. October," a one-hour documentary on the career of Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson, airs at 9 p.m. Tuesday on MLB Network.
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