Yankees: $189M or Bust?

Updated: January 15, 2013
Photo by Keith Allison

Photo by Keith Allison

It’s been well-documented that Hal Steinbrenner is bound and determined to get the Yankee payroll to $189 million for the 2014 season. They are currently looking at paying a 50% luxury tax over $189M in 2014, but reaching that budget would reset the tax rate to 17.5% for future years thus providing further flexibility.

Photo by Keith Allison

Photo by Keith Allison

You somehow never believe the Yanks are REALLY going to discipline themselves on player salary but boy, they sure seem to be all singing from the same hymn book and the only new 2014 commitment they’ve made is a possible 2nd year vesting deal with Ichiro. Following the last big free agent splurge for the 2009 season the Bombers have set themselves up for maximum flexibility in 2014: they have $72M tied up in A-Rod, Teixeira and CC Sabathia, but otherwise $3M buyout for Jeter (in reality they will likely need to pay up for Jeter again in 2014 unless Jeter’s 2013 is disastrous) and a possible $6.5M vest for Ichiro. The books are remarkably clear in 2014.

Of course there are some big names that we haven’t mentioned, most prominently Robinson Cano. Robby switched agents in 2011 to Scott Boras who universally urges his clients to play it out to free agency rather than extend early. Cano feels he’s already signed one club-friendly deal and wants a market rate (he’s talking A-Rod money). So this isn’t likely to go well, especially occurring in the Year of $189M. I wondered if the Yanks might not consider trading him, as heretical as it may seem (he’s about their only valuable trade chip and unless they’re going to pay up this could be his last roundup in pinstripes) but at this point that certainly seems moot.

Photo by Keith Allison

Photo by Keith Allison

Of course we haven’t mentioned other familiar names like Mariano, Pettitte, Granderson, Kuroda, Hughes, Gardner, Joba, Robertson, Pineda, Nova, etc. Many of these will not likely be back in 2014 but the rest will need to get paid.

In all likelihood this is the last ride together for this group of Yankees. And otherwise maybe  act like other clubs, giving youngsters an opportunity or else competing with the Astros for a few cheap spare parts and castoffs. This could be a healthy purge for the long-term.

With this sort of talk, this is certainly not Hal’s father’s Yankees. Financial discipline? Budgets? Rebuilding? In George’s day that would be nice talk for a week until they had an obvious hole in the lineup.

In theory it would be the way to run the team. The new Union agreement and its luxury tax would be the perfect external condition to force a transition from the big payroll predator to a homegrown Moneyball club with Yankee bucks resources…sounds like an awesome plan.

The only glitch in this beautiful plan is the lack of production from the farm system. While the new Baseball America farm system rankings show the Yanks as 11th best, the problem is most of the talent is concentrated in the lower levels; most of their upper level prospects have struggled either with health or production.

Maybe the Yankees have a plan we’re not aware of. Maybe they’ll sell as I previously wrote and a Private Equity group will dust off the old George Playbook. Or maybe the Yanks will be ordinary and younger fans will learn what lean years are like.

This post was written by

Dave Graziano – who has written posts on Big Dog Sports Blog.
Short Hills, NJ USA


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