Five stages of grief over a $189 million payroll

Saving money on Sabathia's extension
Yanks talking to Nakajima, but not close to deal

Note: In case there was any confusion, I recognize that this is firmly in Spoiled Yankees Fan territory.

Reactions to news that the Yankees desire to trim payroll by 2014 have resembled the Kübler-Ross model. First came denial: no way the Yankees would actually do this. They’re just setting a smokescreen. Then came anger: how can the Yankees trim their payroll while they raise ticket prices? That leaves three stages remaining: bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Let’s see if we can run though these in short order, so that we can prepare ourselves in case the Yankees actually do intend to duck the luxury tax cap in order to lower their payments once they re-cross the threshold.


The biggest issue with trimming payroll is that the Yankees need players to fill key spots. While they have all of their position players under contract for 2012, they could still use another starting pitcher. Nick Swisher then becomes a free agent after the 2012 season, leaving a spot in right field that the Yankees would be hard pressed to fill internally. These things cost money to fill.

Yet we still want the shiny toys. We want Yu Darvish this year, and we want Cole Hamels next year. We want a big bat to take over for Swisher in right — it was Matt Kemp previously, but surely fan desire will turn to another worthy candidate in time. Again, these players come with big price tags. It’s hard enough to fit them into a $210 million payroll, let alone a $188 million one. But we can make this work, right?

According to Joel Sherman’s original article on the payroll issue, the Yankees already have about $85 million committed to the 2014 payroll, at least as it concerns luxury tax. That covers Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia, plus “about a $10 million charge for benefits, such as pensions.” Then there’s another possible $6 million if A-Rod hits his 714th homer in 2014; if he’s anywhere near that mark at the end of 2013 they have to assume that $6 million charge. That could conceivably put them at $91 million for three players.

Want to sign Robinson Cano to a long-term deal? That’ll likely mean a contract with an average annual value between $22 and $24 million. Even then, they’re covered at 3B (optimistically), 1B, 2B, and one starting pitcher. Derek Jeter could exercise his player option for $8 million. Brett Gardner will still be around, but won’t be cheap in his third year of arbitration. Ditto David Robertson. Jesus Montero, thankfully, will still make about a half million, which will soothe the payroll a bit. Ivan Nova will just hit his first year of arbitration, giving them another relatively cheap producer. That still leaves them with voids to fill in center field, right field, the bullpen and rotation, catcher or DH, and maybe shortstop. It’s a long list.

So where does that leave us? At a conservative $15 million estimate for Gardner, Robertson, and Nova, $23 million for Cano, and $8 million for Jeter, that brings us to $137 million. OK. That doesn’t look too bad. Counting Montero, that’s nine players. Surely they can sign the remaining 14 players for $50 million, right? Well, that depends on how you want to fill the spots. Want Darvish? That’s probably a $10 million AAV. Want Cole Hamels next off-season? That could be another $22 million. See how quickly that money gets spent? Even if they go with just Darvish, that still leaves them just $40 million for 13 spots, including two in the outfield.

That leads us to…


It does appear that the Yankees will have to scale back on spending at some point if they do intend to get to $189 million. The biggest obstacle is the money already on the books. That $91 million for three players puts the Yankees at a great handicap, since it represents essentially half of their available payroll. That leaves them with the same amount of money to sign the entire rest of the roster. Needless to say, that’s not an easy proposition.

Again, looking at the above back of the napkin calculation, the Yanks have 14 spots to fill for $50 million — and that assumes that Montero is the real deal and can either catch, or can hit well enough to remain at DH. But there are still those holes in the outfield, in the starting rotation, and in the bullpen. Sure, on the bench and in the bullpen they can probably get away with five or six guys making the league minimum, so that gives us eight spots to fill for $47 million. But even one high-priced pitcher changes that equation drastically.

That’s still do-able, in a way. If the Yankees can make use of six or seven guys making the minimum — and that can be guys such as Mason Williams and Manny Banuelos as starters, or guys such as Adam Warren, Brandon Laird, and Dellin Betances as reserves and bullpen arms — they’ll have a bit more flexibility. In fact, if they score a few key hits from the minors they very well could fall into this payroll range. No, that’s not the depressing part. The depression comes from the players already under contract.

In 2014 A-Rod will be 38, and turn 39 in July. Jeter will be 40 that June. Less troublesome are Teixeira at 34 and Sabathia at 33. No, the depression comes from the spots and money essentially guaranteed Rodriguez and Jeter. Maybe Jeter retires, though that opens up yet another spot without a viable replacement in the system. A-Rod, though, will make $26 million in 2014. What’s worse, Yanks fans had better hope he makes $32 million. He has 85 homers to go until he triggers his second home run milestone bonus, at 714. If he’s not poised to hit that milestone in 2014 it’ll mean he’s averaging fewer than 30 homers per year. For the money they’re paying him, the Yanks need that kind of production from Rodriguez. Yet given his injuries lately, it seems a longshot to think he’ll live up to that standard.


Is it going to suck watching the Yankees scale back their spending in the name of circumventing luxury tax payments? Absolutely. Will it mean they miss the playoffs a year or two? With the added Wild Card they’ll have a better chance of making it, but the competition in the AL has increased. The only fun that will come of this will be the chances they give prospects. If they’re not committing big money to additional positions, then they pretty much have to give the kids a shot.

The only thing to do at this point is accept it. The Yankees have these three huge contracts on the books, and nothing they can do will reduce their current 2014 luxury tax level. If the Steinbrenners really do want to save the luxury tax money, there’s nothing we can do to stop them. They know the repercussions of putting a subpar product on the field, and they know the consequences of missing the playoffs. We can only trust that they’ll make decisions with that knowledge in mind.

Bonus: Denial Again!

But seriously. With the three-team scrum in the AL East, combined with the enormous incentive to win the division, the Yanks can’t be serious about trimming payroll, right?

Saving money on Sabathia's extension
Yanks talking to Nakajima, but not close to deal
  • theyankeewarrior

    Fuck this $189 figure. Inflation doesn’t work backwards. I see it as a bargaining coy to give Cashman some leverage in negotiations. If agents like Boras know the Yankees budget is limitless, then they will always have to pay over market-value for who they want. Even if it’s for a shitty LH reliever with a bum shoulder.

    This is a way to combat those negotiations. Create an invisible limit. And WHEN we surpass it, we can point to “special approvals” made by ownership, added revenues from overseas (thank Yu), or extra cash from winning the WS in (cross Yu’r fingers) 2012, & 2013.

    But ya, again, fuck ~189M budgets. This isn’t 2004. It’s 20 fucking 12. We all buy our $100 jerseys and drink our $12 beers. Now sign me some dayum free agents and let’s roll.

    • Paul from Boston

      Exactly. This is cover to corral spending, and thus profits, for the family and LPs. That said, a lot of dumb contract will be off the books by 2014 (Burnett, Jeter, LHPs, even Mo). There’s no reason they can’t come close to 189M. They won’t though if they give a dumb contract to an aging 2B that approaches Pujols in AAV but not performance. For as good as Robi has been, he’s a 4 to 6 win player, not a 7 to 9 win player. The most he should be making is $15M/year a la Utley (who’s been the better player).

      • Chip

        Mark Teixeira ages 25-28: 6 WAR, 3.3 WAR, 4.3 WAR, 7.4 WAR: 5.25 WAR/season
        Robinson Cano ages 25-28: .3 WAR, 4.2 WAR, 6.5 WAR, 5.6 WAR: 4.15 WAR/season

        He’s pretty close to Tex and he has two more seasons of his peak to gain value. If he puts up another 5 win season this year and he’s right with Tex. Yes, he’ll hit free agency two years later but you also have to consider inflation, the lack of productive second baseman and that he’s a True Yankee™. 23M a year wouldn’t surprise me a bit

        • Paul from Boston

          1. Teixeira is clearly overpaid. See also Adrian Gonzalez. A-Gon ($21M) is the better bat and glove.

          2. Cano is not worth 50-100% more than Utley ($15M) and Pedroia ($10M), even given inflation. He’s a lesser glove than both with at best an equal bat. His peak salary in two year should be $17M, at best, and that assumes he’s still a useful 2B.

          • Joe Pawlikowski

            Utley and Pedroia were not free agents when they signed. We can assume that Cano will be a free agent when he does sign, so there’s no sense in drawing those comparisons.

            • Paul from Boston

              That’s a red herring. Sure, they took money off the table, but not $40 to $80M off the table.

              Cano, as a weak glove at 2B and no OBP skills, is not worth even $20M. Teixeira ain’t either but that’s another argument.

              • Chip

                Cano does have OBP skills, they’re just tied heavily to his batting average. Also, I don’t know how many people would agree that Cano has a weak glove. If you combine various systems which are all flawed, they see him basically as an overall average fielder for the past three seasons.

                Pedroia signed a crazy team friendly contract that bought out all of his arbitration years. I’m pretty sure that Pedroia would make at least 20M a year on the open market right now despite having very average power away from Fenway (130 career doubles at Fenway vs 76 on the road)

                • Paul from Boston

                  ” I’m pretty sure that Pedroia would make at least 20M a year on the open market right now”

                  Based on what? 2Bs just aren’t seen the same way that true power hitters are.

                  I agree on the benefit that Pedroia gets at Fenway.

                  • Chip

                    He’s 28, plays gold glove defense at a position that is incredibly weak right now in the majors and is coming off an 8 win season.

                    • Chip

                      Also, you can look at it this way. Jose Reyes, who is an average defender at the more premium position and hasn’t been healthy in the past 3 seasons is getting paid like 18 million a year coming off a 6 win season.

                    • Paul from Boston

                      Um, no, he doesn’t play gold glove anything. At best, he’s a 6 win player. That’s an All-Star, not an MVP.

                      Wake up, sheeple. Cano is very good. But he’s not $20M good.

                    • Chip

                      If he isn’t a gold glove second baseman, then who is? You say Cano is also bad so you’re only left with Kinsler and Kendrick which I think most people feel are not quite as good as Pedroia.

                      And if you value anybody as a 6 win player, and the marginal value of a win is 5M, then you should pay them an AAV of 30 million

                    • Paul from Boston

                      Kinsler, Pedroia, and Utley are all better with the glove.

                      Context matters for salaries. Being the highest paid 2B of all-time put him at $16M per, right? Or am I missing someone?

                    • Chip

                      I was referring to Pedroia as the gold glove second baseman.

                      Also, I fully agree that context matters so I’m wondering: Who is the best second baseman who hit the free agency market in the past 10 years?

                      I’m seriously at a loss as I can only think of Soriano who got 17 million dollars a year despite moving off of second due to just not being good there and not being as good as Cano with the bat.

                      I can’t think of a single second baseman who is nearly as good as Cano that has hit the free agency in their prime. The only guys in his league (Pedroia, Utley, Kinsler, ect) have never hit free agency.

                      Free agency is about supply and demand and there is absolutely no supply of high end second basemen out there so his value is going to be huge

                    • Chip
                    • Ted Nelson

                      Zobrist is arguably the best.

                • Paul from Boston

                  On Cano and OBP – exactly. His 2008 showed what happens when he suffers from a poor BABIP. His value plummets. That’s not a guy I want to be paying $20M per. The contract Utley signed is a fine deal that he’d struggle to top in the open market. If he loses just a lick of bat speed, he’s an .850 OPS player. That’s plenty valuable at 2b, so long as you don’t overpay for it.

                  • Chip

                    You have to consider timing too. If Utley had not signed his 7 year deal and instead become a free agent after the 2009 season, he would be making 20 million a year quite easily. He was very easily one of the top 5 players in the game at that time

                    • Paul from Boston

                      I don’t buy it. Who’s made more at 2B?

                    • Chip

                      As I noted above, nobody has actually hit free agency who is as good as Cano at second base

              • RkyMtnYank

                Cano has a weak glove? Have you ever seen him play? Makes everything else you say much less credible!

                • Paul from Boston

                  His glove is average, but 2B is a premium defensive position. If his glove fades anymore in the next two years, he may not be a 2B much longer.

                  • Stan the Man

                    The Cano’s glove is average comments are outdated and useless. He is the best second basemen in baseball and is 28 yrs old. Guys like Cano don’t come around often and the Yankees will over pay to keep him, just like theyd did Jeter and AROD.

        • Paul from Boston

          Of course, Teixeira looks like he’s getting old fast. It’s dumb to commit that kind of money to 1B. He’s showing why. They could be playing Jorge Vazquez and Montero at 1B for 1/20th of the cost. 1B is the easiest position on diamond to replace.

          • Mike Axisa

            They could play Jorge Vazquez at first and get 1/20th of the production as well.

            • Paul from Boston

              Pleeze. That’s not true and you know. Vazquez wouldn’t be far off of Teixeira’s 2010-2011 stretch. That’s increasingly looking like what we could expect in 2012 and beyond. He’s an .850 OPS hitter with just above average defense.

              Nice to leave off Montero though. The Teixeira deal is looking like quite the albatross itself. It’s not A-Rod/Pujols bad, but it’s not much better than Ryan Howard.

              • Stan the Man

                If Tex is willing to listen to some coaching and change his approach at the plate then he will be a very productive hitter again. His defense isn’t slightly above avg it is elite and that won’t change anytime soon. He just needs to not bat in the .240’s anymore.

              • Ted Nelson

                We should all know Vazquez could produce like Teixiera… yet no team does? The Yankees are going to sell him to Japan even though all other MLB teams know he’s a dirt cheap top 6 1B in baseball?

                Is that really your argument?

              • Chip

                Vazquez would get destroyed in the majors. The guy had a 33% K rate in AAA. Sure, he’d hit like 20 homeruns but I would be surprised if he hit more than .220/.260/.450 in the majors. He’s like a much less selective version of Shelley Duncan

  • Paul VuvuZuvella

    Hah! Kubler Ross quoted on a Baseball blog site. I laughed. Well done.

  • Fin

    I think the Yankees are playing it pretty conservatively via FA and trades in order to put themselves in position to get under the 189 in 14. However, as you stated they need significant help from their minor leagues to get there. My feeling is that while they are putting themselves in postion to get to 189, if they do not get the help from the minors that they are hoping for, they will scrap the plan and spend money. I dont not think the Yankees will put a non playoff caliber team on the field in order to avoid the luxury tax, as that could very well cost them alot more money than they save.

  • Micah

    Yankees have no interest in Darvish. Not happening. How many times do we have to speculate about something when we know it’s not happening?

    Also – come on, guys, someone needs to proofread. This half-sentence is a joke: “Then there’s another possible $6 million if A-Rod hits his 714th homer in 2014, that’s another $6 million;”

    • Moshe Mandel

      Really? No interest? I’d love to see a source for that position other than some vague reports that they may not be willing to pay the price, which is different than a total lack of interest.

      As for the second part, sorry your highness. I will point out that you’ve made a similar comment in the past and were informed about the tip box above. Any reason for calling the error out publicly?

      • Micah

        How about something like this, from the Daily News, saying the Yankees are extremely cautious about posting for him?
        But yes, you’re right, I poorly phrased that comment. I did not mean that they would not be interested in him on the team – however, no way are they posting a bid that high. There are multiple reports out there that confirm this, including today’s Post.

        I’ll use the tip box from now on. I’m not trying to come off as someone holier than thou, but I do expect a lot from this site, and find myself disappointed.

        • Paul from Boston

          Wow, the Daily News is an impeccable source. Really, great, investigative journalism there.

          Maybe you could ask the site for a refund?

          • Micah

            Just because I don’t pay for the site doesn’t mean I can’t expect it to utilize basic grammar and proofreading. Sorry that I expect people who are, you know, authors to actually write grammatically-correct sentences. What a horrible offense I’ve committed.

            • Joe Pawlikowski

              Things slip through the cracks with everyone. It happens. It happens at larger publications, but they have budget and can pay editors. We all have jobs and so don’t have the time and resources that other outlets have. All we ask is a little leeway.

            • Cris Pengiucci

              Since it bothers you so much, why not offer them your proof reading services? Can you turn around 5-8 articles a day within minutes? Let’s see how many errors you miss. Cut these guys a break.

            • Paul from Boston

              They write thousands of words a week. Why don’t you stop your bitching and simply proofread everything and send them a note of suggested edits? I’m sure they’d really appreciate your theorizing on Strunk and White and the split infinitive as well.

              • Juke Early

                Beware the Jabberwock & the Grammarian my son.
                My copy of Strunk & White just fell off the shelf, laughing. If I could get paid a dollar every time an English speaker on the net misused just the words — their/there/they’re — I wouldn’t be in a location that only gets dial up. Often the culprit is relying on a spell-checker which can’t judge correct usage.

                Oh, yeah: I hope this NYY fiscal belt tightening is mis-direction. But I also agree, some of the shareholders want that shortfall money & don’t have George’s balls.

            • theyankeewarrior

              Micah… a man without perspective.

            • Dropped third superstar


      • Stan the Man

        Who really cares about the tip box and whether it is made publicy? The mistake is there for all to see anyway.

    • theyankeewarrior

      1) Gain a sense of prospective for the bidding/posting process. No one (including the damn Daily News) knows for sure what the Yankees stance is. Joe is simply hoping here, or comparing Darvish’s would-be salary to another pitcher that makes ~9M/year playing on the 2014 team.

      2) Leave the blog if you want to complain about a post written for free, in spare time. This isn’t a MLA course. It’s a free, kick-ass Yankees forum. Any my guess is that he did proof read it. Just because you proof something, doesn’t mean it will be error free.

      • theyankeewarrior

        Whoops, I meant *perspective. I will immediately fire my internet-posting-proofreading department, as should RAB after this fiasco.

        • Cris Pengiucci

          And in your correction, you forgot to close the quotes after “perspective”. Don’t ever post here again! :-)

          • Cris Pengiucci

            Never mind. My eye sight is going. That was an asterisk. I’ll stop posting now.

      • Chip

        I couldn’t agree with this more

    •!/MattMontero1 Jim

      “Yankees have no interest in Darvish. Not happening. How many times do we have to speculate about something when we know it’s not happening?”-Micah

      Don’t forget that Bubba Crosby was going to be the starting CFer a few years ago.

      If a grammar mistake every once in a while really bothers you that much, why don’t you either just politely tell them there’s a mistake or stop reading the articles (the second one of course only if you’re going to make a big deal about every single little mistake).

  • A.D.

    Just makes that A-Rod contract look worse and worse

    • Jesse

      It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

      • Gonzo

        No Jeter is the one that has that.

        • Jesse

          Not as much as A-Rod. The Yankees are stuck with him for another six years, while they’re stuck with Jeter for a maximum of three more years. Not to mention Jeter will be making a lot less per year and overall during that time period.

          • Gonzo

            This was a herpes joke.

            • Jesse

              Yikes. Sorry for missing that.

    • Paul from Boston

      I really wonder if he’d consider retiring early if he has another year or two like 2011. These guys do have some pride. Walking away from $100M seems absurd, but it would be one way to end his career on a high note.

      • Chip

        With the possibility of setting the all time home run record? It’s not like Pete Rose walked away when he started sucking. You’re right that these guys have tons of pride and they want to set records and go down in history

        • Paul from Boston

          Another year like 2011 and it will become obvious he ain’t coming close to Aaron.

          • Chip

            True, but he only needs to average 20 homers a year to get it. I’m sure in A-Rod’s mind, he can still hit 50 a year so he probably won’t give up unless he’s still over 100 away with two years left. Athletes are always the last to know that they’re done

  • Gonzo

    This was great. Next time can we get some of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs thrown in there.

    This kind of reflects my thoughts on the subject too.

  • JK

    They will be getting under 189M, you can bank on it! The incentives of the CBA are just too great.

    Not only will they save 25M in luxury tax, they could save 10-15M off payroll and receive a rebate of 40M a year in revenue sharing if they stay under 189M.

    So by dropping the payroll 10-15M, the family gets to keep an extra 75-80M. I would probably drop the damn payroll too.

    Cashman has been wanting to do this for years, and he finally has the ammo to get the Steins to get in line.

    Player benefits and extended 40 man roster is 10-15M so they actually would have to drop the payroll to 175-179M

  • JohnC

    Forget Darvish. Forget Cespedes. Sign Jorge Soler

    • bobtaco

      I read a quote saying that Soler is comparable to Bubba Starling, is that accurate?

  • Chip

    Does A-Rod’s 6 million immediately apply to the payroll for luxury tax purposes in 2014? I would think that it works like a signing bonus or guaranteed buyout and would average onto the rest of the contract.

    Also, Jeter’s contract will be “changing” from a 3 year / 51 million guaranteed contract to a 4 year / 56 million guaranteed contract so they should only have to pay the difference of 5 million towards their payroll for luxury tax in 2014 if it works like I understand it

    • Joe Pawlikowski

      I’m pretty sure, but not 100%, that it works on AAV of the guaranteed money from the contract and escalators get tacked on at the time. Otherwise they’d have to go back and revise previous luxury tax bills. That is, if Jeter’s deal changed from 3/51 to 4/56, they’d have to go and alter 2011, 2012, and 2013 payments.

      • Chip

        Wouldn’t they just pay the difference between what is owed now and what was previously paid up? They don’t alter previous payments, they just subtract that payments already paid from the bill due.

        • Joe Pawlikowski

          But then you could potentially, though not specifically in the Yankees’ case, run into an issue where a future escalator knocks you over a previous year’s limit. And that has effects on all future years. Does MLB really go through all of this paperwork?

          • Chip

            Puts you over a previous year? As in the escalator increases the AAV over the life of a contract? That would be a pretty easy calculation. Figure A-Rod’s home run escalators work that way and he hits 660 next season. They’ve been writing him down at 10/275 for the first few seasons but now he’s at 10/281. You’ve paid 27.5M for 4 years for 110M, 281-110 = 165M left over 6 years is 28.5M per year.

  • TomH

    While we’re mentioning Kubler-Ross and Maslow, leave us not forget Freud: the death drive–every human organism seeks to die in its own way.

    Sure the Yankees can cut back to save luxury tax costs, etc. Indeed, it may have even struck the Steinbrenners as a noble idea. Of course, they’re young enough not to know the effect of poor Yankee teams on revenue at the ticket window, including luxury boxes. Every generation has to relearn certain lessons: depressions can return, appeasement doesn’t pay off, the Yankees can fall out of contention and cede their reputation, along with the glamor and dough that accompany it, to other people.

    Gee, then they can learn a Sartre lesson: Hell is Other Teams (at the top of the Heap).

    • Jumpin’ Jack Swisher

      Kubler-Ross. Maslow. Freud. On a Yankee blog. Wow.

      Any room for Minuchin?

    • Ted Nelson

      A. You really think Hank Steinbrenner can’t remember things that happened at 30-36 years old? That the Yankees brass knows less about the relationship between winning and revenue than you?

      B. There is no one to one relationship between spending and winning.

      • TomH

        Actually, I was thinking of “things that happened” AT 8-18 YEARS OLD.

        Do I know more about the relationship between “winning and revenue” than “the Yankee brass.” Let’s just leave it at “Steinbrenner sons,” since they control the purse strings. In that case, I MIGHT KNOW MORE, and so might you, and poster A, or B or C. Why? Because it’s not our money, and to the extent that we don’t have the interest in maximing revenue that the Steins do, we may be, to that precise extent, less inclined to illusion, self-deception, wishful thinking, etc. Don’t be so deferential to authority (“Yankee brass”).

        Of course, there’s no one to one relationship between spending and winning. All things considered, though, it’s better to have a lot to spend, and to spend it, than having (a) not so much and being unable to spend it; or (b) having a lot and sitting on it rather than putting it back into the team.

        The owners of the Giants in the 1920s were inclined to live off their revenue. The Yankees under Col. Jake, poured it back into the team.

        • Ted Nelson

          Anything is possible, but their interest in maximizing returns should lead to some curiosity in what’s driving revenue generation.

          I am not deferential, I just give them the benefit of the doubt that they are not incompetent morons. In order to not understand the relationship between winning and revenue generation they would have to be total buffoons. So by implying they don’t at least have a vague idea of the relationship, you are calling them morons. With the one… maybe. Other seems decently intelligent.

          And their history suggests that they’re not interested in skimping on winning to save money.

          “it’s better to have a lot to spend, and to spend it,”

          Sometimes it’s better not to spend it than to get locked into huge long-term deals with bad players. There’s an opportunity cost to every guaranteed long-term contract and every trade. The Yankees seem to have a very strong understanding of this based on their recent trend of not overpaying for anything less than elite production (or at least elite PR in some cases).

  • Chip

    I put this over at Yankee Analysts earlier but figured I did the research so I’ll repost it here with some tweaks

    C – Montero/Romine/Murphey – all of these players should be making the minimum
    1B – Tex – 22.5M
    2B – Cano – 23M
    SS – Jeter – 5M (already paid up 51M towards payroll in previous seasons, so only apply the difference when he picks up the option)
    3B – A-Rod – 29M (assume he hits his 714th homer which adds 1.5M a year to the rest of his contract)
    OF – Gardner – 5.5M (could be a lot higher if he has a couple decent seasons as this would be his third time through arbitration but I’ll go with 5.5 for now)
    OF – Generic outfielder making…….16M
    OF – ??
    DH – Montero/A-Rod/Jeter/ect

    SP – CC – 24.4M
    SP – Nova – Arb 1 so we’ll say 1.5M because of the wins
    SP – Darvish – 10M since this is all theoretical anyhow
    SP – Betances/Banuelos/Warren/Phelps/Noesi/ect – .5M
    SP – ??

    RP – Robertson – Arb3 for a guy who could be a closer but let’s say that Soriano is the closer through 2013 and keeps Robertsons value down to 5M
    RP – Wade – Arb 2 so I’ll give him Boone Logan’s 1.2M
    RP – Yankee 3 year / 12M special
    RP – minimum
    RP – minimum
    RP – minimum

    BN – Cervelli – Let’s use him for the backup catcher although it could be another prospect but we’ll say 1M here to be safe
    BN – Nunez – could be the starting shortstop in his first arb year if he’s still here so we’ll say the .5M that Lowrie got this year
    BN – Outfielder making the minimum
    BN – Extra bat (minimum)

    That gives us 152.1M but leaves us with a hole in the rotation and right field with an entire bench making the minimum. Let’s say our target 25 man payroll is 179M so we have ~26.9M to fill those two spots. This doesn’t necessarily leave out Hamels but it would be pretty hard to fit him in there unless we have a prospect break out to play right field. This could be a great spot to sign Solar and/or Cespedes and have them out there making less than 5M a year. Also, you could not sign Darvish, instead get Cain or Hamels and hit on another prospect. Either way, it’s possible to do it and still have a pretty good team out there depending on health and how some of these guys age.

    And yes, I’m completely stuck in the bargaining stage

    • Chip

      Forgot A-Rod also has an escalator at 660 homeruns, if you assume he hits that next season (it would be his 31st of the season) then you have to add another 1M to his average salary for 2014

    • Need Pitching

      nice breakdown, but just a couple of points I’d like to add
      – performance bonuses count in the year they are earned, not apportioned over the rest of the contract, so if ARod reached a milestone that year, it would count for the full $6M that year
      -the arb projections you make seem extremely low. obviously there’s no way to know how they will perform over the next 2 years, but for comps, Jed Lowrie was projected for $1.2 this year for Arb 1, so that would likely be about what Nunez would command, Gardner is projected at about 3.3M this year, so he will likely command much more than 5.5 in Arb3, Hughes got 2.7 in Arb1, likely Nova can get something similar

      • Chip

        The thing about A-Rod is super confusing because it’s a “marketing agreement”. I have no idea how that goes in but yeah, that would blow a hole in everything if he hit it that season. Maybe they come up with a phantom injury if it’s late in the year and he’s getting close :) (joke, settle down people)

        You’re right about the arbitration numbers, I thought the 2.7M was the second year figure for Hughes so yeah, that probably adds another 2 M to Nova, 1M to Nunez but I think my Robertson guess is close. Matt Capps got 7M his third year and he had those saves that the arbitors love so much.

        Gardner…..ugh who knows. I’m having a hard time coming up with a comparable to him. Is 10M more likely?

        • Need Pitching

          Michael Bourn is projected for $7.3 this year (last year of arb)
          that’s the closest comp I could think of off the top of my head

          • Chip

            Good one, so that puts me like 5M short leaving them with ~20-21 million to fill out their last starter and right fielder. Still do-able but much less so especially if A-Rod’s “marketing contract” applies at 6M in 2014

    • Paul from Boston

      Cano doesn’t deserve $23M. That’s pure Yankee inflation. No other team gives him that. Pedroia makes 10M a year. Utley is at $15M. Why should Cano make 50-100% more than either of them?

      • Need Pitching

        if Cano continues to play like he has the past 2 seasons, he will easily get that. Pedroia makes less because he hasn’t been a free agent yet

        • Paul from Boston

          Easily? Sorry, I doubt that. If he improves with the glove, maybe. Maybe. But then it’s just as likely he regresses. His OBP did in 2011.

          • RkyMtnYank

            Why do you think he has a weak glove? He’s better than Pedroier, he’ll make plays Corky only dreams about!

            • Chip

              I don’t think he’s better than Pedroia, in fact I think he’s worse, but he’s still average to above average with the glove and has tons more power

          • Chip

            I think he could definitely get it but I’m not sure that’s really the point. The point was to see if they could possibly get under that payroll in 2014 and to see how the team would look. It might be a decent team depending on how Jeter, A-Rod and Tex look at that time, how the starting pitchers develop and who joins Gardner in the outfield

      • Mike Axisa

        What Pedroia and Utley make is irrelevant to Cano, they were never free agents. If Cano has two more years like his last three and hits the open market, he’ll command $20M a year whether you believe it or not.

        • Paul from Boston

          Again, that’s a red herring. Neither player’s agents are dumb enough to leave $40-80M on the table. Your conditional is a big if, given how much his performance is tied to his average. And just because the Yankees would give him $20M AAV doesn’t mean another team would. Ian Kinsler is as valuable as Cano, with a much better glove, and he won’t top even $15M a year (~23 fWAR for both since 2007).

          • Chip

            Players agents are definitely willing to leave 40-80M on the table if it means security for the player. 3 years is a long time to keep up elite production so players take a smaller deal to buy out their arbitration years and some free agency years.

            I’d be very willing to bet that Evan Longoria left more than 100M bucks on the table with his contract that he signed

            • JAG

              Before his second extension, Tulowitzki doubtless did too. As did Pujols with his extension and Braun with his, and….

              You know, it’s looking a lot like players who sign extensions with their teams before free agency often do so below market rate and thus leave money on the table. Hmm.

  • Dan

    So, based on this could we expect a possible 2014 roster of:
    C: Montero/Romine
    1B: Tex
    2B: Cano
    SS: Jeter/Nunez
    3B: A-Rod/Laird
    DH: A-Rod/Jeter/Montero
    OF: Gardner/Granderson/Williams (depending on the contract Granderson will command)
    SP: CC/Darvish/Nova/Banuelos/Betances or Warren
    RP: (Betances or Warren), Robertson, Kontos, Montgomery, add in two or three more arms.

    I would expect this to be the bare minimum. However, I think from looking at the expected contracts, it should probably leave them enough room to go after Hamels also, unless Mo is still pitching at 15 mill per season, which is possible.

  • Professor Longnose

    I’m OK with the Yankees scaling back and even missing the playoffs. I’ve been a Yankee fan a long time, and I’m figuring to remain one long after whether they win in any one year makes a difference.

    Of course, when they actually stink, I’ll be pissed. But I’m OK with it now.

    • Cris Pengiucci


      However, with the projected or possible roster configurations I’ve seen thrown around, I doubt they’ll “stink”. They can still make a push for the playoffs and then, its anyone’s guess what happens.

    • Ted Nelson

      Who knows, but I imagine they might sort of play it by ear. If a great player comes along, they might ditch the $189 threshold. If they have a “losing” (i.e. no playoffs) season, ditto. If things go well with young guys filling holes, they’ll stick to it.

  • Rich in NJ

    I have no problem with the ML payroll limit. I do have a problem with the amateur draft and IFA spending caps.

    • Ted Nelson

      Not having those caps largely undermines having the draft in the first place.

      • Rich in NJ

        Yet smart teams like TB do fine.

        • Ted Nelson

          Tampa is a playoff team… they draft at the end of the round just like the Yankees.

          The draft is meant to offer competitive balance by giving the worst teams first shot at prospects. If players can virtually make themselves fall in the draft by threatening not to sign it undermines the whole process. If the best teams can just go out and sign the best IFAs, again it undermines the process.

          • Ted Nelson

            Basically, the draft is not about rich vs. poor. It’s about bad vs. good. Since fans in a certain market have one hometown team to root for (two in the largest markets), the bad teams get a little boost. If fans had a choice and there was a competitive system in place, the better run organizations could run the worse organizations out of business (and better run teams could take their place over time). Since it is not a competitive system, a perpetually bad team is probably only going to lose MLB as a whole fans who will turn to other forms of entertainment.

          • Rich in NJ

            Smart teams draft well no matter where they draft, poorly runs teams don’t.

            That is a far more important causative factor than money spent.

            • Rich in NJ

              Let’s also not overlook the fact that small market teams have recently been spending more on IFA with the belief that this is a unique opportunity to get high end talent before they reach free agency.

              Also, Toronto was able to sign Hechavarria even though the Yankees offered comparable money because he thought he would have a clearer path to being a starting SS with them (that may turn out to be a mistaken assumption).

              In any event, there are multiple reasons why spending caps don’t necessarily promote parity, or whatever ill-conceived goal Selig has in mind.

              • Ted Nelson

                Selig works at the will of the owners, he’s not the King of baseball.

                The small market teams will still be able to sign those players. The bad ones will get to sign more of them. The overall price of the players will go down. In the short-term the supply remains constant… but the demand is artificially depressed. The price will come down. It’s simple economics.

                This is not meant to be some communist system where every team is equal. It’s meant to still reward well run teams. It’s just meant to level the playing field a little… so that fans are less likely to deal with a perennial 60 win team for a decade plus. Imagine being a baseball fan in Kansas City or Pittsburgh for the past 10 years. And it’s meant to bring down the price of unproven amateurs across the board.

            • Ted Nelson

              If you’re right then the new rules won’t change anything.

              However, I think it’s much more complicated than that. By and large I don’t think that there’s a huge divide between a bunch of really smart teams and a bunch of really dumb teams.

              The new rules should push talent towards the front of the draft, taking some power away from players to decide where they get drafted based on their contract demands. It should marginally improve the ability of bad teams to get good players. The rules are still pretty loose and there will never be a 1-to-1 relationship between draft position and career success.

      • Bryan

        These caps unjustifiably undermine amateur players’ bargaining power.

        • Ted Nelson

          Weak argument. The system is far more unfair to actual 1st-3rd year MLB players who make minimum salary.

          I’d be all for a new system. It’s a flawed system, though, and this corrected some major flaws.

          • The Fallen Phoenix

            I have to disagree with this premise: just because (a) is more unjust than (b) does not make (b) any less just absolutely.

            In other words, sure, the system is more unfair to actual 1st-3rd year MLB players. This should not be corrected by imposing another – even if lesser – unfair system on another group of players.

            • Ted Nelson

              Collective bargaining is not meant to get everyone exactly what they want. I don’t see it as particularly unjust that some 16-22 year old will now get $1 million rather than $2 million as a signing bonus… or $500,000 rather than $750,000. Based on the current system, that seems totally just.

              Amateur players should now be rewarded more because of their actual baseball skill than before (though surely there will still be gamesmanship in the draft, as the rules are still very loose). The overall money doesn’t necessarily go down: Yankees, a really late drafting team still expect a $4 million pool. They were only paying $6 million before.

  • Jose M. Vazquez..

    tion Excessive taxes have been known to cause contractions of businesses even relocation and revolutions. That said, I do not know the Yankees’ finances but I’m willing to wager that the make more money than most other teams. If they reduce the payroll too much it may create a lesser team in the near future. I blame all of this on the new CBA. As Joe states above the only good thing that will come out of this is that we will be seeing what the farm produces sooner than expected.

    • Jose M. Vazquez..

      On the other hand, we have seen how other teams with lesser payrolls have won the WS in recent years.

  • Duzzi23

    If they are going to make payroll firm at that number then thats fine but they better stop ripping us off with 350$ seats 40$ to park and so on that goes with the prestige of the new stadium. I think the Steinbrenner kids don’t have the passion for the Yankees and are content with just making the playoffs while they rake in the money. The problem is with Tampa and Toronto in the divison having all these great young players that will make them compete for years.

    • Fin

      If the Yankees reducing payroll causes them to put a team on the field that isnt in playoff contention they wont be able to charge that. Prices will come down and people still wont show up. When push comes to shove, they will go over the cap rather than put and average to bad team on the field. Look no further than the Mets to what happens with bad teams in NY.

    • pat

      What exactly does one do differently to go from “just making the playoffs” to actually winning the WS?

  • Clint Holzner

    Great article, Joe. Probably my favorite of the Winter thus far.

    I am going to buy into this 189 thing for now because that has whats been reported but if it changes, I won’t be surprised. The thing is that it makes sense for them to come down, they really can save a ton of money not just for being under but because the rate of being over won’t be 50% it will be 17.5%.

    With that said, the silver lining here is that hopefully we get to sit back and watch Cashman do his thing. I have a lot of confidence in him to continue to develop players and draft effectively. As far as I know, he has a good team in place, I hope guys like Opp and Eppler can stay around a little longer.

    The Yankees have a good farm system right now even beyond the high-ceiling guys like Betances, Banuelos and Montero. They have a lot of MLB level arms like the David Phelps’ and Adam Warren’s of the world that while they might not be the best, they seem like the are of a high enough caliber that they could at least contribute to an MLB team in some capacity. But then again, what do I know.

  • ajra21

    this is why i said signing alex, derek and tex to long term deals was a bad idea. i was also against resigning CC to another long term deal. with payroll flexibility we’d be able to add pieces far more easily. feel confident derek, alex & CC would have all remained in NY without the extra long deals.

    • ajra21

      didn’t mean to include CC in the last sentence.

    • Ted Nelson

      “with payroll flexibility we’d be able to add pieces far more easily.”

      When you added those pieces, you’d have to give them big deals too… if the players you wanted to add were any good.

      Pujols’ deal is pretty similar to A-Rod’s. Reyes has averaged 3.3 fWAR the past three years.

  • Ted Nelson

    I don’t know if they even plan to let alone will stick to it, but $189 million doesn’t mean losing.

    They can get to $189 million and still win the division. It’s going to take good returns from the prospects. Nothing ridiculous, just solid.

    Who are they going to replace Swisher with? Josh Hamilton? Even with limited restrictions on payroll finding a cheaper alternative than paying Swisher or Hamilton through their 30s would behoove them.

  • Nathan

    The team that is known for spending is being forced to give up it’s competitive advantage. Where’s the fun in that?

    • Ted Nelson

      They’re allegedly choosing to give it up.

  • Jumpin’ Jack Swisher

    Only a group like us would be worried about the Yankees not winning because they spent less than $189 million on playroll.

    • Mike Axisa

      Yeah no kidding.

  • leftylarry

    Owners will be looking to make profits from here on in, not just appease fans.
    The Arod deal will come back and haunt for a very long time.

    • pat

      Are those two things connected?

  • Kevin D.

    The Yankees will be fine.

  • KL

    Somewhere a Royal fan is reading this and laughing. Even Met fan can only laugh at Yankee fans whining about payroll.

  • CJ

    Is that denial or refusal to take a Joel Sherman as anything more than an editorial?

  • infernoscurse

    i actually want them to bring payroll down and make it more challenging and competitive

  • munson78

    If they really want to go crazy they could trade Robbie. Sounds like a bad idea but could actually save money and maybe bring in some young quality hitters or pitchers. Would they be daring enough to try it though?

  • PauleyLee

    Really angry about the ticket prices and “redistributing” 2 sections of the “outfield” to the “infield” to raise prices. 414 and 426, which were priced as outfield last year are now priced as infield this year. If you look on last year’s seating chart and this year’s, the seats have magically morphed from outfield to infield. To me, this is the epitome of sneakiness and, like the rise of bleacher seat prices, raises prices on the “little guy” only in a very “below board” way.

    I worked hard to get new seats in the new stadium and I had great seats in the old stadium. A lot of season ticket holders felt screwed over but they must think we’re over it so they do it again. If you ask them for explanations, they don’t have them.

    I hate being at a game and seeing all those empty seats around home plate. The real fans, true fans, are up in the rafters and in the bleachers and they’re the ones getting screwed.

    The whole reason to hold onto to the season tickets even as they’re taking you hostage is to secure post-season tickets. Without that, I’m not sure (well I am sure) it’s not worth it.

    They promise to field a winning team “for the fans.” The fans are paying for one, and not the fair-weather comfort seats fans, the REAL fans in the bleachers and under the facade. And they’re the ones who get bit.

    If they brought ALL the seat prices down so that the “little guy” can afford better seats, and stop with the stealth “Oh now you’re in the infield!” sneaky crap, they would fill all the seats and be able to field a winning team so that the real fans, the true fans, the “saving for my season tickets” fans, can cheer them on.

    “We have the greatest fans in the world.” they say. They neglected to say “So we’re going to screw them over…watch!” Bah humbug.

  • LiterallyFigurative

    The gist of this conversation:

    Guys with Fords and Lexus and such having to listen to a guy with a Bentley whine because the seat doesn’t recline far enough.

    If the Yanks are going to have a $189 million dollar payroll, does that mean we’re now the Kansas City Royals?

    Even if they are at 189, they’ll still have Robbie, Tex, DRob, Jesus,CC, another top-flight FA pitcher, some configuration of Nova/Noesi/Hughes/ManBan/Betances (some might get traded or be in the rotation), Alex, and at least 1 top-flight outfielder. Not bad for the core of your franchise.

    Yankee fans cry about bloat and waste on the payroll. Maybe the 189 mil barrier might stop the team from making overreactive signings (bullpen arms come to mind), and put a higher premium on developing and opening up spots for the kids (not that they haven’t been infusing young talent already).

  • LiterallyFigurative

    If the payroll is around 200 mil now, and we admittedly have dead weight (Burnett, Feliciano, Soriano), then 189 isn’t THAT drastic a cut in payroll. Expiring contracts (when balanced by arb raises and such) still give the Yanks payroll relief.

    And they aren’t going to be cutting prices because they dropped the payroll 20 million dollars. You’ll still be getting a top team on the field.