It's hard to look at the New York Yankees' offseason and not feel disappointed about how they've attempted to catch up to the Boston Red Sox.
Beyond winning as many games as possible, the Yankees went into the 2018 season with the goal of avoiding the luxury tax. They accomplished their mission by spending less than $200 million on payroll for the first time since 2004, all the while winning 100 games.
After paying $341 million in luxury-tax penalties between 2003 and 2017, the Yankees were on the hook for nothing extra this past season. Moreover, they reset their penalties on future overages from 50 percent to 20.
Ergo, it was time for principal owner Hal Steinbrenner to deliver on a hint he dropped in November 2017 (via David Lennon of Newsday): "I think that flexibility is going to be a reality for us to do that and still field the kind of team that our fans demand."
Yet rather than some combination of Manny Machado, Bryce Harper, Patrick Corbin and Craig Kimbrel for hundreds of millions of dollars, the Yankees have added lesser stars for a total of roughly $150 million.
Five years ago, the Yankees gave each of Jacoby Ellsbury and Masahiro Tanaka more than that in a massive splurge. The task at hand now is the same as it was then: close the gap between them and a Red Sox team hot off a World Series championship.
But despite any rabble-rousing buzz you may hear from disgruntled fans, the Yankees have done just that.