When the Yanks on the World Series in 1998, they did so with a $73-million payroll. Despite the then-lofty price tag, the Yanks finished behind the $74-million, fourth-place Orioles in the payroll wars. That historic season would be the last time the Yanks lost that battle.
Ten years later, the Yanks are coming off a season that saw their payroll balloon to $218.3 million, nearly $70 million higher than the most expensive team to ever win a World Series. Brian Cashman, who is part of a Front Office that just doled out the most expensive contract in history and high-ticket deals to two other star players, now says that the bloat has to stop:
“We are high,” Yankees GM Brain Cashman said in an interview with ESPN 1050 New York’s Andrew Marchand. “If I could get our payroll lower [I would]. It is not going to happen — not this year. But we have, at the end of the year, a lot of numbers coming off. The combination of building our farm system and getting our salary lines back to where they probably need to be. That’s a process, too, and that takes some time. I’m not particularly proud that we have the highest payroll in the game.
“I just don’t think you are going to get the type of bang for your buck at the type of dollars that you are paying.”
For some Yankee fans, their instant reaction to this quote will be one of concern. The vaunted Yankees are going to enter a rebuilding period? No way, how how.
But what Cashman is saying actually makes perfect sense. With the farm system coming due at the same time a lot of contracts are coming off the books, the Yanks have the cheap, good pieces to plug in to the right holes. At the same time, with a lot of albatross-like contracts — Jason Giambi, Carl Pavano, Kyle Farnsworth — coming due, the Yanks can use that money to snatch up the right pieces.
NoMaas likes to say that if they had $200 million to spend, the Yanks would never lose. If Brian Cashman is true to his word and the Yanks’ brass don’t overreact this season, we may finally get to see what happens when the Yanks put together a well-constructed $180-million machine instead of a $200-million bloated roster.