Major League Baseball sent out the luxury taxes bills on Tuesday, and the Yankees are on the hook for $18 million. It’s their lowest luxury tax payment since 2003, down from $25.7 last offseason. “Atta baby. And right now we’re in the $170s,” joked Brian Cashman, referring to the team payroll (in millions, of course). The Red Sox are the only other team over the limit, and their luxury tax payment comes in at $1.49M. Checks are due January 31st.
For luxury tax purposes, the Yankees had a $215.1M payroll in 2010, down $11.1M from 2009. The threshold climbed to $170M this past year, so the Yankees were taxed the maximum 40% (since they’re repeat offenders) on the $45.1M they spent in excess of the threshold. Since the current incarnation of the luxury tax was instituted in 2003, the Yankees have paid out a total of $192.2M. Boston is the second biggest luxury tax culprit at $15.34M. The money goes into MLB’s central fund, which is used to cover player benefits, “injury growth,” and other vaguely described items.
Here’s what Brian Cashman had to say, courtesy of ESPN NY …
“We’re doing a better job of managing our payroll and managing our decision-making as we enter the free-agent market,” Cashman said. “Our payroll doesn’t necessarily have to live at that level, but it’s nice to know that our owners are committed to allow us to get there if we need to.”
“We weren’t going to exceed where we were this past year, but the bottom line is that now that the Lee thing has declared itself, it would be hard-pressed for us to get up to that level,” Cashman said.
“You need a strong farm system that prevents you from being desperate in the free-agent market,” Cashman said. “You don’t want to be desperate in the free-agent market, because you’ll get slaughtered.”
Because of the Lee non-signing, the Yankees have a good amount of extra cash burning a hole in their pocket, but the problem is there are no decent players to spend it on. The top free agents still on the market don’t fit with the Yankees, and spending upwards of $20 million on complimentary pieces isn’t the wisest idea. Instead, Cashman has said the team will be patient and add a piece here and there, then take the payroll savings into the season. Then when some team is looking to unload a contract during the summer, the Yankees will be first in line.