Breaking down the payroll, part two


It’s been a little over a month since we last broke down the Yankees’ payroll, but a lot has changed since then. Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher had their clubs options officially picked up, Andrew Brackman was cut loose, Rafael Soriano did not opt-out of his deal, and CC Sabathia signed a new contract extension. Let’s take stock of who the team currently has under contract for next season…

Freddy Garcia‘s new one-year contract is not yet official, but all reports indicate that it will have a $4M base salary plus incentives. That brings us up to a dozen players and a total payout of $177.125M. Using MLBTR’s projections, the Yankees will have another $17.9M tied up in their six arbitration-eligible players. Chris Dickerson just missed the Super Two cutoff, so he’s not yet eligible for arbitration. That’s $195.025M for 18 players.

There are currently 22 pre-arbitration players on the 40-man roster, and the new CBA raised the minimum salary to $480k. If we estimate those 22 guys at half-a-mil each, it’s another $11M on the payroll, bringing us to $206.025M for 40 players. It doesn’t work like that though, not all 22 of those guys will be in the big leagues this year. Cory Wade, Ivan Nova, Jesus Montero, and Eduardo Nunez seem to be the only guys with a realistic chance of sticking all year. The other 18 pre-arbitration guys will spend the majority of the year in the minors and earn minor league salaries.

Adding Wade, Nova, Montero, and Nunez to the 18 players above gives us a payroll of $197.025M with three spots on the 25-man active roster left open. Preferably, one of those spots will go to Andruw Jones, another to a starting pitcher, and the last to someone filling the Eric Chavez role (backup corner infielder, lefty bat off the bench). The Yankees are all but guaranteed to go over the $200M mark next season, even if they just re-sign Andruw and fill the last two spots with Hector Noesi and Brandon Laird.

If the Yankees are planning to stick to that $200M limit they’ve talked about in recent years, then they won’t be making any major signings this winter without shipping some salary out. They could save a few bucks if the arbitration salaries are lower than projected, but it’s unlikely to be enough to land a big name pitcher. The Yankees are either going to have to start next season with a higher payroll than what they’ve indicated they’d like it to be, or they’re going to have to get creative to make major upgrades this winter.

Categories : Analysis


  1. Matt Bertelli says:

    This is why Darvish makes so much since, his posting fee won’t be counted against the payroll and the yankee tax, however he would still have a rather big salary 12-15 mill a year I would guess, but lower then a CJ Wilson at 18-20 mill a year. With the new CBA I think it makes Darvish more attractive since he is relatively young and it will be harder to obtain younger talent.

  2. UYF1950 says:

    Mike, the Yankees always say they want to stay in the $200MM range but as best I can tell they have for at least the least couple of years ended the season with the 25 man active roster at about $210MM. If that’s the case again this year as of right now and considering your numbers above the Yankees have about $10MM more to spend after both Jones and Chavez (theoretically). That $10MM should be enough to trade for and carry the payroll of either: Garza, Danks or even Darvish if he ever gets posted in 2012. Or even some FA like Buehrle or Edwin Jackson if the load a little more of their payroll into say the 2013 or 2014 season if it comes to that.

    The only real starter I see the Yankees theoretical spending limit as a problem in signing is Wilson.

    Just my thoughts.

    • I am not the droids you're looking for... says:

      I agree.

      Separate but related: this is where the Soriano signing becomes such quitter fail. If we had $21+mm (instead of $10mm as you outline) available for 2012 and 2013, I’d feel much better about what Cashman could achieve without materially breaking the $210mm threshold.

      • I am not the droids you're looking for... says:

        * an utter fail

        iPad auto correct fail!

      • UYF1950 says:

        As a fan does it really matter to any of us if Cashman has to break through their theoretical $210MM threshold for the “right” player. For me it doesn’t matter one bit.

        I believe Hal Steinbrenner has stated previously that for the right player the money is available. For what’s available on the market this year I do not believe the Yankees need to or will go over the $210MM. There are plenty of players (pitchers) available and plenty of ways around crossing that threshold like paying a signing bonus and then pro-rating that bonus over the life of the contract. Or in the case of a trade Cashman can simply do what Epstein did with Gonzalez not announce an extension until after the 1st day of the new season making the new contract not subject to the luxury tax for a full year. As someone once said “where there’s a will there’s a way”.

        • I am not the droids you're looking for... says:

          No don’t get me wrong. I am a firm believer, even without the obvious Cliff Lee math, that the Yanks can and will go (much) higher if they believe it makes sense to do so. However, I also believe that at the margin thing A does impact thing B, and that at some point “enough is enough” even for the brothers Steinbrenner. And in this case I believe we’d be way better off without Soriano bc I think that we’d be doing more than we are.

    • YanksFan says:

      Agree. I said so below before reading your comment.

  3. UYF1950 says:

    BTW, we can always hope that at least Soriano opts-out after the 2012 season. When there will be fewer closers on the market and he can hope to get “another” multi-year year with a different team. Freeing up some additional dollars then. Just my opinion.

  4. Damix says:

    Do we know if insurance covers Feliciano’s contract?

    Also according to Cot’s baseball contracts, A-Rod makes a million less, Tex makes ~500k less, are you including prorated signing bonuses and incentives I am unaware of?

    I think there is some room here,

  5. theyankeewarrior says:

    The $200 “limit” is complete BS. It’s a good way for Cash to generate some sort of leverage vs. the market and guys like Boras.

    They would have signed Cliff Lee last year and gave him 22+M if they could have. That would have put them around $225M.

    I think ~$230 is the limit, and $215-220 is where they will fall just about every year moving forward.

  6. viridiana says:

    Excellent post. Demonstrates the importance of competent low-salary homegrown players to fill out a rtoster so top-heavy with huge contracts.
    It will be more and more critcal in coming years for Yanks to have a stream of first- second- and third-year players earning minimal salaries.
    This is why the new CBA will hurt so much, choking off talent supply. Shouldn’t be an issue for at least four or five years and perhaps Yanks will figure out how to deal with it. Selig has defintely attempted once again to put the screws to this franchise.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      It’s pretty unlikely that Bud Selig is some sort of criminal mastermind set on ruining the Yankees… he’s a representative of the owners as a group. It’s like saying the union chief is really trying to screw one individual player.

      All teams are going to have less money to spend in the draft. That doesn’t necessarily mean the talent level will go down, and if it does that should impact all teams fairly equally. The new IFA rules are sort of an unofficial draft for IFAs, where the worst teams get a better chance to acquire talent.

      This shouldn’t hurt the Yankees much more than marginally if they do a good job of evaluating talent… especially because they can still sign big free agents and take on big salaries in trade pretty much as they see fit. Who knows which guys were signed on the margins that they wouldn’t have signed with less money… but many of their amateur hits were not big $ guys. Gardner, Cano, Nova, Banuelos, Noesi, Robertson, Joba, Warren, Phelps, Mitchell, Romine, Nunez… these are all guys that they should still be in the running for.

      • viridiana says:

        All teams are not affected equally by changes. And there is every reason to think Selig has targeted the Yankees for years. I have been privy to such conversdations and insigtht as such into his motivation..

        Small market teams are agtain beneficiaries. They get extra picks at the end of the first and second round. Their IFA budget — which again will reward the worst teams with the hghest caps — will directly penalize the Yankees so long as they continue as a winning team. After this year, they will have one of the tiniest budgets for IFA’s based on their recent success. They will also be penalized — as they always are — by picking late on EVERY round of the amatuer draft. The teams that pick ahead of them will have higher budgets. And since they have first crack at the best talent they can simply sign at slot.
        Picking so late in each round, the Yankees will have less to spend and won’t be able to “overspend” as they and some other clubs have done. But the worst teams — and the teams from the smallest markets — continue to be the direct beneficiaries as they will actually have far more leverage with their draftees now. So they should be able to take their picks of the top talent with the least signability concerns — and pay them less.
        Every basic exconomic move Selig has made has favored the small market tems at the expense of the Yankees and a few other large market teams. The new CBA stands firmly within that tradition.

    • Rainbow Connection says:

      LOL @ you. Stop pretending the Yankees are victims.

  7. Jose M. Vazquez.. says:

    CC 20 wins, Nova 15 wins, Hughes 15 wins, Garcia 10 wins, AJ + spot starters 14 wins that is a total of 74 wins + 22 from the bullpen=96 wins enough to win the east again if it all comes to be. Of course, the postseason is another thing. We will need a #2 after CC if we are going to win another WS. They either go over the 200M or just make the playoffs just to lose. That means getting Yu or Garza or even Buehrle.

    • Jumpin' Jack Swisher says:

      The post-season is always another thing, no matter the roster makeup. You could trade for Clayton Kershaw and Roy Halladay and it doesn’t guarantee a thing.

  8. Plank says:

    Next year they have over 30 million coming off the books (Rivera, Swisher, Feliciano, Martin) and probably just one position (LF) to replace through FA.

    They had Posada come off the books this year and replaced him from within.

    • Damix says:

      I’m looking at Martin as the long term catcher now, so you’ll have to pony up for him (High estimate – 10mil/yr). I *hope* we will replace Rivera with what we already have (Robertson, Joba, Soriano). Giving us around ~20 million for likely a RF and a starter.

      Hamels/Greinke/etc (or Yu?)

  9. SmartAss says:

    Sorry, I just can’t resist but I couldn’t help but notice how everyone’s salary number has an M for Million behind it. Except for AJ. So he makes $16,50 a year? Now I know he has his faults, but surely he must be worth more than that? :)

  10. Monteroisdinero says:

    Thank goodness our best bat is also our cheapest.

    just kidding Robbie…

    our 2nd best bat

  11. well you know says:

    Good, realistic analysis.

    The one thing I notice is that the count to 25 for the roster includes Feliciano and Joba. They count against the payroll but Feliciano’s roster spot in particular will have to be filled by another major league salary all year long. I’d assign that spot to either Cervelli or Romine acting as the main BUC (Montero to DH), so that’s another 500K.

    The Yanks will also have to pay someone else a major league salary from Opening Day until Joba returns mid-year to claim his spot.

  12. YanksFan says:

    Is 200M really the number. It’s a nice round figure to use but I take that to be the neighborhood. According to COTS they’ve been at 213 & 207 the last 2 years. So they may have 7M to play with & still not incease payroll.

    Last year they would have gone for Lee and been at maybe 210 – 215. They didn’t & got Sori. If there’s someone they really like I think they’ll be in on them.

  13. Jumpin' Jack Swisher says:

    I love that Brian Cashman (and, really, only Brian Cashman) makes decisions based, not on what he has available, but by what makes sense to the team in the short or long term. This is why, as long as there are no Soriano-esque moves by the rest of the FO, any moves the team makes will be ones that don’t handcuff them, whether they add ten players or none.

  14. JohnC says:

    Any chance they resign Brackman to a cheaper deal?

    • Plank says:

      I’d put it at about 1 in 30.

      • Jumpin' Jack Swisher says:

        Why would that be? He was clearly not worth the 2008 price, but there’s no reason to think he’d be worth it on an minor league contract? Is anyone else going to guarantee him a MLB job?

        • Plank says:

          It was a joke. There are 30 teams, so I meant the Yankees have the same chance as every other team.

          No one is going to guarantee him a major league contract. (I would think.)

  15. Grover says:

    I’m alone on this one but I would rather see Cashman manage to the $178M threshold, pass on the free agent pool, put the kids in the backup/role positions and practice addition by subtraction.

    • Plank says:

      Why do you want them to slash payroll?

      How is that addition by subraction?

    • Dan 2 says:

      You certainly are not alone.
      If the Yankees were held to the 178M budget they would end up making better decisions and fielding a better team. Hindsight is 20/20 but with a budget:
      Posada would not have gotten his forth year
      Soriano would not have been signed
      Jeter would have been forced to sign a contract relative to his real value, like two years 15-20
      A rod would not have gotten that ridiculous contract which will be a sword over our heads
      We would not have had the luxury of signing AJ and Tex
      We would have somewhat lesser players in some areas but more money for the bench and more platoon flexibility. The real bonus would be forced to give kids a try.

      • Plank says:

        You forgot:

        Would not have won the 2009 WS.

        Why do you assume only the moves currently seen as bad would not have been made?

        • Dan 2 says:

          Tell me how you work them into a $178 M budget

          • Plank says:

            Are you serious?

            You are the one advocating the $178MM budget. Are you a Steinbrenner heir? That would be the only people benefiting from keeping payroll that low.

            Of course the team would be much different if their payroll was much lower. They would most likely also be significantly worse.

            • Dan 2 says:

              Not necessarily worse. St Louis is a perennial playoff team and a WS winner this year with a payroll 1/2 of the Yankees. Work harder, spend money more wisely.
              If we stay at the luxury tax threshhold, that is significantly less money going to other clubs. That theoretically opens up more avaiable prospects down the road since teams have less overall income. With the money not spent, and I am not a Steinbrenner heir, we spend it on scouting and developement, and maybe adjust ticket prices and concessions. You can do a lot more with $25-30 million annually than overpay players.

              • Plank says:

                Luxury tax money does not go to other clubs.

                You can use the Cardinals or Rays or anyone. Every year the Yankees don’t win, you can use an example of a team with a lower payroll that went farther.

                Work harder

                Do you think the Yankees don’t win more often because they don’t work hard enough?

                • Dan 2 says:

                  Luxury tax pays for MLB expenses that otherwise would get allocated to the clubs. Luxury tax may not have a direct impact on a club’s bottom line but never the less has an impact. Where do you think that money goes? And what would happen if it wasn’t there. And no, I do not think the Yankees work as hard as many others and have to make as many hard decisions as others. They don’t have to when they can throw money at the problem

  16. theyankeewarrior says:

    What, exactly, will the minor league players like Pena/Maxwell etc. get paid?

    • Plank says:

      d. Minimum Salaries
      1. Major League will increase from $414,000 in 2011 to: $480,000 in 2012; $490,000 in
      2013; and $500,000 in 2014; COLA in 2015 and 2016.
      2. Minor League will increase from $67,300 in 2011 to: $78,250 in 2012; $79,900 in 2013;
      and $81,500 in 2014; COLA in 2015 and 2016.

      I would assume this would apply to them.

  17. Brian S. says:

    Burnett, Soriano, Jeter, and Feliciano are making 47.5 million dollars next season for likely just a combined 4 WAR. Fuck I hate everything.

    • Plank says:

      3 of them were seen as bad signings just a year ago. Funny how that happens.

      I would assume they put up higher than 4 WAR, too.

      • Brian S. says:

        Last offseason was horrific.

        • Plank says:

          Well, the Feliciano signing was terrible, and the Soriano signing still seems ill-advised. What would you have done at SS?

          Garcia and Colon worked out pretty well.

        • RetroRob says:

          The last offseason that resulted in a first-place finish and 97 wins?

          • Brian S. says:

            Soriano and Feliciano didn’t really do shit to get those 97 wins. Jeter didn’t so anything for half the year either.

        • David, Jr. says:

          In your mind, this one might also end up being horrific.

          If Cashman really likes Montero, Banuelos, Betances, etal., I could easily see him saying that the team as currently constituted has maybe a 90% chance at making the playoffs and maybe a 75% chance of winning the division, so he retains those assets for the long term and goes with what he has.

  18. Grover says:

    When I mentioned addition by subtraction I was referring to sending out an asset or assets in order to unload a Burnett and/or Soriano with less money coming back in the deal. Noesi and the starters at Scranton over Burnett along with this year’s Ayala signing or Wade over Soriano’s performance is the addition while subtracting two expensive mistakes. I think the assets are Swisher and Martin but that is another debate.

    I think the Yankees match up well with several big market clubs and a few smaller market clubs that have some money to play with this offseason but will probably have to wait for them to miss out on their big ticket free agent targets before coming around to plan B or C and consider taking our dead woodalong with an asset or two and selling it to their fanbase.

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