The free agency era dawns with George Steinbrenner making the first of his huge splashes by signing former Oakland A's ace Catfish Hunter for five years at then-astronomical $3.3.5 million. Big name outfielder Bobby Bonds is acquired from the Giants via trade.
2 of 28Louis Requena/MLB Photos via Getty Images; Walter Iooss Jr./SI; Dan Farrell/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images
Key components of the Yankees' return to glory arrive via trades with the Angels (clockwise from top left) (starting pitcher Ed Figueroa and beloved speedy centerfielder Mickey "the Great Gozzlehead" Rivers) and Pirates (starter Dock Ellis and second base mainstay Willie Randolph).
3 of 28Diamond Images/Getty Images
Steinbrenner goes for the gusto by signing former A's slugger Reggie "Mr. October" Jackson to a five-year deal worth $2.9 million, thus ushering in the tumultous, if successful, Bronx Zoo era. Former Red ace Don Gullett (inset) is signed for six years at $2 million but spends much of his two years in the Bronx nursing arm woes.
4 of 28Cliff Welch/Icon SMI
Closer Sparky Lyle famously goes from Cy Young to Sayonara as the Yankees sign free agent Goose Gossage (6 years, $2.75). Starer Andy Messersmith is purchased from Atlanta for $100,000 and becomes Carl "American Idle" Pavano's ancestor by appearing in only six games for New due to injury. Middle reliever Rawly Eastwick is given a five-year deal worth $1.1 millon.
5 of 28Louis Requena/MLB Photos via Getty Images
The two-time defending World Series champions fortify their starting pitching by signing medical marvel Tommy John (four years, $1.4 million) and former Red Sox icon Luis Tiant (two years, $875,000), who later declares "It's great to be with a wiener!" while shilling for Yankees Franks.
6 of 28Lane Stewart/SI
Determined to get back to the World Series for the first time in three years, the Yankees make a huge splash by signing former Padres slugger and All-Star outfield Dave Winfield to a monster 10-year deal worth $23 million. Winfield will famously go on to be labeled "Mr. May" by Steinbrenner for his postseason struggles, including a particularly miserable World Series.
7 of 28John Iacono/SI
After Boss George decides to turn the Bronx Bombers into the speedy Bronx Burners, the Yankees acquire outfielder Ken Griffey in a trade with Cincinnati, and sign swift ex-Reds outfielder Dave Collins to a three-year deal worth $2.25 million. Griffey and Collins will spend much of the season in search of a permanent position. Starting pitcher Shane Rawley arrives from Seattle via trade.
8 of 28Rick Stewart/Getty Images; TSN/Icon SMI
Trying to bulk up an anemic lineup, the Yankees sign heavyweight slugger Don Baylor for four years at $3.7 million, and former Tigers rightfielder Steve Kemp for five years at $5.45 million.
9 of 28Focus on Sport/Getty Images
Unceremoniously evicted from his longtime home with the Braves, ancient knuckleballeer Phil Niekro is signed for two years at $1.4 million. Former All-Star third sacker Toby Harrah arrives via trade from Cleveland, his use-by date having expired.
10 of 28John Iacono/SI
Pitcher Ed Whitson (inset) -- manager Billy Martin's future sparring partner and boo-bird target -- is signed for five years at $4.25 million. The big fish is master base-thief and egocentric malingerer Rickey Henderson, who lands a five-year deal worth $8.6 million and later reveals that "Rickey runs when Billy tells him to run."
11 of 28Rick Stewart/Getty Images
Starting pitchers Charles Hudson (Philles) and Rick Rhoden (Pirates) arrive via trade. The Rhoden deal later becomes infamous for sending future ace Doug Drabek to Pittsburgh.
12 of 28Rick Stewart/Getty Images
Former Giants slugger Jack Clark (two years, $3 million) is the marquee name. The Yankees also add crumbling veteran pitchers John Candelaria (one year worth $700,000) and Rich Dotson (trade with the White Sox).
13 of 28Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty Images
The headline deal is the signing of former Dodger second-sacker Steve Sax (three years, $4 million) to replace longtime standout Willie Randolph. Sax will mostly become famous in New York for developing the yips. The Yankees also try to fortifying their starting staff with the likes of Andy Hawkins (three years, $3.6 million) and Dave Lapoint (three years, $2.5 million). Moody slugger Mel Hall arrives via trade with Cleveland during spring training.
14 of 28John Iacono/SI
Eccentric starting pitcher Pascual Perez is signed for three years at $5.7 million while former Mets wunderkind Tim Leary, who is no longer a wunder or a kind, arrives from Cincinnati via trade.
15 of 28John Iacono/SI
Unable to sign Barry Bonds, the Yankess settle on Danny Tartabull, handing him a five-year deal worth $25.5 million. Free agent infielder Mike Gallego arrives at a more reasonable $5.1 million for three years.
16 of 28Rich Pilling/MLB Photos/Getty Images; John Iacono/SI; AP
The Yankees elevate Boston's blood pressure by signing perennial Red Sox batting champion (clockwise from top left) Wade Boggs for three years at $11 million. Starting pitcher Jimmy Key signs for four years at $17 million while outfielder Paul O'Neill (Cincinnati) and pitcher Jim Abbott (Angels) arrive via trades.
17 of 28Bill Frakes, Chuck Solomon/SI
Closer John Wetteland arrives from Montreal in a trade for minor league outfielder Fernando Seguignol, a player to be named and some cash while veteran shortstop Tony Fernandez is signed to a two-year deal worth $3 million.
18 of 28John Iacono/SI
First baseman Tino Martinez and middle reliever Jeff Nelson are acquired from Seattle in a trade for pitcher Sterling Hitchcock and third base prospect Russ Davis. Pitcher Kenny Rogers is signed for four years at $19.5 million.
19 of 28AP; Harry How/Getty Images
Temperamental Japanese hurler Hideki Irabu, who will become George Steinbrenner's "fat pus-sy toad" is given a four-year deal worth $12.8 million. Pitcher David Wells, a heavyweight fan favorite, is signed for three years at $13.5 million.
20 of 28AP
All-Star second baseman Chuck Knoblauch arrives from Minnesota in a trade for pitching prospect Eric Milton, minors Danny Mota, Brian Buchanan and Cristian Guzman, and $3 million. Pitcher Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez, a Cuban defector, is brought aboard with a four-year deal worth $6.6 million.
21 of 28Heinz Kluetmeier/SI
Continuing their tradition of poaching former Red Sox icons, the defending World Series champs land five-time Cy Young winner Roger Clemens from Toronto in a trade for David Wells, Graeme Lloyd and Homer Bush.
22 of 28Matt Campbell/AFP/Getty Images
Longtime Baltimore Orioles ace Mike Mussina is added to the starting staff with six-year pact valued at $88.5 million.
23 of 28Matt Campbell/AFP, Lawrence Lucier, M. David Leeds/Getty Images; AP
Rotund hurler David Wells returns for his second stint in the Bronx, at three years for $13.5 million, but the bigger prize is slugger Jason Giambi, lured from Oakland with a seven-year deal worth $120 million. Lesser additions include outfielder Rondell White (two years, $10 million) and third baseman Robin Ventura (one year, $5 million).
24 of 28AP; Wire Image/Icon SMI
The Yankees are famously deemed "the Evil Empire" by Red Sox president Larry Lucchino as they sign coveted Cuban hurler Jose Contreras for four years at $32 million and add insult to injury by adding Japanese superstar slugger Hideki "Godzilla" Matsui for three years at $21 million.
25 of 28Timothy A. Clary/AFP, Ezra Shaw/Getty Images; AP
In an orgy of extravagance, A-Rod and the $179 million left on his record $252 million, 10-year deal (Texas will pay $67 million of it, the most cash in a trade in big league history) arrive for Alfonso Soriano and a player to be named. Kevin Brown and his $15 million contract is brought in from L.A. for Jeff Weaver, two prospects and $3 million. Slugger Gary Sheffield is signed for three years at $36 million. Pitcher Javier Vazquez is acquired from Montreal for Nick Johnson, Juan Rivera and Randy Choate. Starter Jon Lieber (two years, $4 million), reliever Tom Gordon (two years, $7.25 million) and outfield Kenny Lofton (one year, $6 million) round out the bonanza.
26 of 28AP; Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Crabby old nemesis Randy Johnson arrives from Arizona in a trade for pitchers Javier Vazquez and Brad Halsey, minor league catcher Dioner Navarro and $9 million. In one of their more infamous moves, pitcher Carl Pavano receives a four-year, $40 million deal and earns the nickname American Idle by spending most of the next three years on the DL. Brittle hurler Jaret Wright gets a three-year deal worth $21 million, and the ultimately useless Tony Womack gets two years at $4 million.
27 of 28Jim Rogash/WireImage
Boston is outraged as World Series hero Johnny Damon defects to the Bronx and a four-year, $52 million deal. Seeking a set-up man for closer Mariano Rivera, the Yankees hand the erratic Kyle Farnsworth a three-year pact worth $17 million.
28 of 28AP
Unproven pitcher Kei Igawa is signed for five years at $20 million. Andy Pettitte returns to the scene of his former glory, with a one-year deal worth $16 million and a $16 million option for 2008.
You May Like
Sign Up for our Newsletter
Don't get stuck on the sidelines! Sign up to get exclusives, daily highlights, analysis and more—delivered right to your inbox!