Saturday, December 21, 2013

Yanks Still Trying To Avoid The Luxury Tax?

The Yankees' activity on the free agent market has slowed way down since the Carlos Beltran signing.  Sure, they added Brian Roberts and Matt Thornton this week, but their involvement on the starting pitching market has been non-existent with things held up on the Masahiro Tanaka front and now it sounds like the plan to stay under the $189 million luxury tax threshold is back on again.  Via Joel Sherman's Thursday column:

"Because as one member of the organization said to me, 'We either have to be under $189 million or up over $200 million or more. Think how dumb it would look if we worked for a few years to get under $189 million and we didn’t and we were at like $192 million and just missed. Either we go under or way over.'"

That comment was made in the context of talking about Alex Rodriguez's suspension, but it still doesn't make a lot of sense to me.  The Yankees have spent a shit ton of money this offseason, enough money to put themselves right on the ragged edge of going over that 189 number.  They've done a solid job of trying to reload the team on the fly but there are still some major spots that need to be addressed.  To not stay fully committed to that and to go super cheap to avoid the luxury tax in the event that A-Rod isn't suspended for the whole year is stupid and makes the rest of their big offseason moves relatively pointless.

I get that they're trying to keep every option available to them while there are still things outside of their control that have to happen, but this playing both sides of the luxury tax fence thing is dumb.  Being at $192 million of payroll next season would not be dumb.  Caring that you're that little bit over the LT threshold and penny pinching the rest of your lineup together would be dumb.

You can't spend the kind of money the Yankees have and bring in the big names they have only to not finish the job and leave yourself with a team still not capable of making the postseason.  And let's not kid ourselves, a rotation with David Phelps and Michael Pineda at the back end is not a rotation capable of making the postseason.  If they don't want Matt Garza or Ubaldo Jimenez, fine.  But the Yankees then can't take the approach of doing nothing to address the rest of their rotation and roster needs.  They have to keep spending, they have to keep improving.  They've done too much already and they need to stay committed to that effort.  Doing anything other than that makes all these big signings basically nothing more than another phony effort to convince the fanbase that a "championship-caliber team" is the true goal.


Anonymous said...

The soft cap of $189M is calculated at yhe end of the season, not the beginning. That allows for any bonuses in contracts to be calculated correctly. Remember, the Yanks were just hit with their tax bill for 2013 about two weeks ago. So, the Yanks could easily run their salary to say $195M to start the season. If they realize they are out of the race at mid season the could trade Kuroda, remove half of his $16M salary and still come in under the $189M soft cap at the end of the year. Just an example of how they could work the numbers.

Anonymous said...

I think they could skimp on the rotation this season, only if they are committed to spending on a big name free agent pitcher next season. I'm sure they would need more than one, but you never know when a "kid" is going to shine. Maybe they use Pineda and Warren in the rotation and they both are awesome. That would be truly lucky, but then would they really be in a such a bind for 2014? No, they could use their success to shop them for whatever their needs are at the time. At some point, these guys are bound to be successful and make a statement.

Kate Conroy said...

I could not agree with you more....Hal Steinbrenner never intended to go over $189 million.

Hal would have thrown his "mandate" out the window after missing the postseason instead of calling it a "goal."

Minus the fans that eat up Hal's bullshit, it was pretty clear that the Yankees would have to spend well over $189 to contend in 2014.

When the team low-balled Cano and didn't max their offer out at $200 million over 8-years it became obvious that Hal's promise of fielding a championship caliber team had a price tag.

And to the second commenter:

There won't be many top free agents to go after as like in the past. Teams are signing their stars well before they come close to hitting the free agent market. Verlander and Kershaw were both supposed to be FA in 2014 but Dodgers & Tigers signed them to extensions already to avoid that happening.

New York is a "what can you do for me today" city; and as a native Manhattanite and NYY fan, I want to win now. Yankees better slash ticket prices as paying premium $$$ to watch a non-contending team doesn't seem fair.

It will be deja vu 2013...veteran stars with no back-ups when injuries start mounting.