The 2018 Winter Meetings are over and, historically, this last week before the Christmas and New Years holidays is a busy hot stove week. Teams and players like to get things settled before the calendar flips to next year. There should be some signings this week. Will the Yankees make any? We’ll see. Anyway, here are some miscellaneous notes to check out.
Yankees paid Sabathia innings bonus
Remember when CC Sabathia forfeited that $500,000 bonus because he threw at Jesus Sucre in his last regular season start? Of course you do. That was the “that’s for you, bitch” incident. Turns out Sabathia didn’t forfeit the bonus at all. According to Ronald Blum, the Yankees paid Sabathia the $500,000 bonus anyway even though he fell two innings short of triggering the bonus. Pretty cool.
“We thought it was a very nice gesture by the Yankees. CC was very appreciative and is really excited to come back next year and hopefully win a championship,” said Sabathia’s agent to Blum. Considering the score (Yankees led 11-0) and the way he was pitching (five one-hit innings), it seemed very likely Sabathia would throw those last two innings he needed to trigger the bonus. I have to say, I didn’t think the Yankees would pay the bonus. Paying out a bonus the player didn’t reach doesn’t seem like a precedent they’d want to set. Glad to see they paid Sabathia. Dude’s been worth every penny.
Yankees get $23,877.11 in luxury tax money
According to Blum, the Red Sox and Nationals were the only clubs to exceed the $197 million luxury tax threshold in 2018. Boston owes $11,951,091 in luxury tax and the Nationals owe $2,386,097. Because the Red Sox exceeded the threshold by more than $40M, they were hit with the maximum possible penalties, meaning two surtaxes plus having their first round pick moved back ten spots. I doubt they mind it after winning the World Series. The $14,337,188 owed by the Red Sox and Nationals is the smallest luxury tax bill since teams owed $11,798,357 in 2003.
The Yankees finished the season with a $192.98M luxury tax payroll. Add in the Sabathia bonus and my calculations had them at $192.99M. I am pretty darn proud to be that close. Go me. Anyway, the Yankees had paid luxury tax every year since the system was put in place in 2003 before getting under this year. Their total luxury tax bill from 2003-17 was north of $340M. According to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the first $13M of that $14,337,188 is used to pay for player benefits. Half the remainder goes to retirement accounts and the other half is distributed to the non-luxury tax paying teams. So congrats to the Yankees for getting $23,877.11 in luxury tax money this year. Hang a banner.
White Sox wanted Severino for Sale
Here’s a fun retroactive rumor. Brian Cashman recently told Ken Davidoff the White Sox wanted Luis Severino and another unnamed young core Yankee in exchange for Chris Sale during the 2016-17 offseason. I imagine that other player was either Gary Sanchez or Aaron Judge. “Thank God I didn’t do that, actually, because you’d be missing some serious components of our Major League club right now that are under control. We wouldn’t have gotten anywhere if I did anything like that with the White Sox back then,” said Cashman.
In the two years since trade talks, Sale has Severino beat in bWAR (+12.9 to +10.1) and fWAR (+14.2 to +11.5) but not by an enormous amount, and besides, who knows how each would’ve performed had the trade gone down. Their entire career paths would’ve changed in different organizations. Add in the second piece and gosh, I am a-okay with passing on Sale at that price. He’s a great pitcher. No doubt. The Yankees needed more than an ace pitcher at the time though. They needed as much young talent as possible and now they have a ton of it.
Start times for London Games announced
A few days ago MLB announced the start times for the London Series games next June. The Yankees and Red Sox are playing a quick two-game set at London Stadium next year as MLB looks to grow the game globally and make money (not necessarily in that order). The Yankees will be the road team for those two games. Here are the start times:
- Saturday, June 29th: 1:10pm ET (6pm in London) on FOX
- Sunday, June 30th: 10:10am ET (3pm in London) on ESPN
Morning baseball on a Sunday? Pretty cool. The Yankees have back-to-back off-days prior to the London Series — it’s my understanding MLB has some promotional events scheduled for Friday, so I’m sure Yankees and Red Sox players will be involved — and one off-day following the London Series. They have a ten-game homestand, then they go to London for two games, then they come right back to New York for a road series against the Mets.
ESPN Sunday Night Baseball Games moved up
It is a baseball miracle. Last week at the Winter Meetings it was announced ESPN Sunday Night Baseball games will be moved up one hour from 8pm ET to 7pm ET next season. Thank goodness for that. Now all those Sunday night Yankees-Red Sox games might actually end before midnight on the East Coast. The Yankees play a ton of Sunday night games each year and this means we’ll all get to bed at a more reasonable hour those nights.
The change was made because players hate those 8pm ET start times too. At least one team has to travel after the late Sunday game and get into their next city super early the next morning. Now they’ll have that extra hour. ESPN has released a partial 2019 Sunday Night Baseball schedule and already there are three Yankees-Red Sox games on the schedule (June 2nd, July 28th, August 4th). I’m sure the Yankees will play several other Sunday night games as well. They are unavoidable.
Yankee Stadium food safety rates poorly
According to an ESPN investigation, Yankee Stadium ranked dead last among the 30 MLB stadiums in food safety violations from 2016-17. That is a bad thing. Forty-three Yankee Stadium food service outlets were inspected and 34 contained high-level violations, including food that was “adulterated, contaminated, cross-contaminated, or not discarded” properly. Pretty gross! The Yankees and Dan Smith, president of Yankee Stadium food service provider Legends Hospitality, fired back at the report in a statement:
“We treat food safety with the utmost care. We disagree with the ESPN report, whose methodology is unexplainable. We work closely on regular inspections with the New York City Department of Health, whose rigorous participation is welcomed. We also complete our own independent assessments with various consultants and auditors, including food safety companies. If any violation is pointed out, it is addressed and corrected immediately. As a result, in 2018, all of our food stands received an A-level grade, which is the highest level in New York City.”
I suppose I should note the violation level at Yankee Stadium (0.67 high-level violations per inspection) is far lower than the violation level in the surrounding South Bronx area (1.47) so … yay? If at all possible, don’t eat at Yankee Stadium, and I would’ve said that even before seeing this report. The food is expensive and compared to other ballparks around the league, the concessions are seriously lacking. Seriously, how do the Yankees with their new ballpark have such crummy concessions? Folks, eat before or after the game if you can.