December 13, 2001 – In a move that would perhaps be an omen for the next seven years, the Yankees signed Jason Giambi to a seven-year $120 million deal. The slow footed, overpaid, and soon to be outed steroid user would come to be the embodiment of what went wrong with the team over this time.
After hitting at least .291, and as high as .342, for six consecutive seasons with the Athletics, Giambi came to the Yankees and had one similar season before his average dipped to .250 in 2003. In 2004 his average would dip to .208 as he only played in 80 games due to benign tumor that was speculated to be the result of years of steroid abuse.
By 2005 Giambi would regain some level of respectability, but it is certain the Yankees took a wrong step when they signed him. It marked the start of the Steinbrenner-renaissance when the owner took more control of the team and returned it to its 1980’s ways where player development meant nothing and it became all about chasing the big names. Both Joe Torre and Brian Cashman, according to Joe Torre’s book The Yankee Years, were in favor of keeping Tino Martinez on another year and signing Johnny Damon. Instead Steinbrenner signed Giambi and Rondell White.