For a similar breakdown and musing on the payroll and the tough player choices ahead, click through here to Stephen Rhoads’ piece on RAB, which has a complete, editable Google document that you can play around with.
All offseason long, we’ve been talking and thinking about the looming $189M payroll target the Yankees are aiming for in 2014. This will help them get under the luxury tax and potentially net them a lot of money that they can reinvest into the team. The thing we’ve wondered most is how this will affect the team’s spending going forward. With that “budget” in mind, it seems less and less likely that the Yankees will go for big money contracts, as those contracts could hurt them in 2014. I think we can all agree, though, that if someone (Cole Hamels) is out there who can help the team, they’ll break the bank for him. But is it possible for them to break the bank AND stay under that $189M mark in 2014? Using the payroll obligation data from Cot’s, and assuming a few things, let’s take a look.
Our assumptions will be:
1. Derek Jeter will exercise his 2014 player option worth $8M.
2. The Yankees will re-sign Robinson Cano and the contract’s AAV will be $18M.
3. The Yankees will re-sign Nick Swisher and the contract’s AAV will be $13M.
4. The Yankees will re-sign Curtis Granderson and the contract’s AAV will be $15M.
5. The Yankees will re-sign Russell Martin and the contract’s AAV will be $9M.
To make life easy, I’m not going to figure any arbitration raises and will leave that out as “room to play with” for the 2014 budget. So, if we assume all those things (which are reasonable), the 2014 payroll for those players (and Alex Rodriguez, CC Sabathia, and Mark Teixeira) ends up at $135.125M. That’s a lot between eight players, and we haven’t even gotten a second starter or any relievers in there. Luckily for the Yankees, 2014 will be the first year of arbitration for both Michael Pineda and Ivan Nova, so they may not be too expensive. It’s also possible that another minor leaguer (or two) like Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances, David Phelps, or Adam Warren will be taking up a low-cost spot in the rotation (But what about Phil Hughes? He’ll be a free agent after 2013). If the Yankees want to make that big splash for Hamels, there’s probably no way they get him for under $23M/year, so if you want, you can add that to the figure above and come up with $158.125M.
Assuming Pineda and Nova are still in the rotation at that point, along with Sabathia, Hamels, and one of the minor leaguers (as well as the everyday players listed above), that $158.125M is spread out across 12 players. That means the team would have $30.875M to spread around to the 13 remaining players on the roster. The spots they’d need to fill would be:
-Left Field (which will presumably be Brett Gardner, who’ll be in his final arbitration year)
-DH or 3B (depending on what sort of shape Alex Rodriguez is in)
-Backup catcher (which could be filled by Austin Romine or Francisco Cervelli, either of whom will be cheap)
-Most of the bullpen (Joba Chamberlain will be a free agent, as will Phil Hughes, Boone Logan, and Rafael Soriano; but David Robertson will be in his final arbitration year while Cory Wade would be in his second.
-Bench players (Eduardo Nunez will be in his first arbitration year, as will Justin Maxwell, but I don’t think he’ll make it that far. Chris Dickerson will be in his second arbitration year; for whatever reason, I think he could still be with the team then).
Giving roster spots to Gardner, Nunez, Dickerson, Roberston, and Wade would probably cost the team around $10M (with Gardner and Robertson making the bulk of it), putting our theoretical payroll at $168.125M. That would leave the team $20.875M to spend on the remaining roster spots. Going position by position, here’s what we’d have:
SP (5/5): Sabathia; Hamels; Pineda; Nova; (Rookie)
RP (2/7): Robertson; Wade
C (2/2): Martin; (one of Romine/Cervelli)
1B (1/1): Teixeira
2B (1/1): Cano
3B (1/1): Rodriguez
SS (1/1): Jeter
LF (1/1): Gardner
CF (1/1): Granderson
RF (1/1): Swisher
BN (2/3): Nunez; Dickerson
So, the Yankees would need to fill five relief pitching spots, a bench spot, and the DH spot with just under $21M. That is a very tall order, even for a GM of Brian Cashman’s caliber.
Now, remember, this is essentially a pipe dream scenario, since I’m proposing having both Swisher and Granderson back (which may not happen) as well as signing Cole Hamels (which may not happen). By no means is this necessarily likely to happen; I just wanted to see if the Yankees could have their cake (Hamels and two great outfielders) and eat it, too (stay at $189M). It’s possible, but is it plausible? I’m not so sure I can say that.
EDIT 10:00 AM: And, as UYF1950 just pointed out in the comments, luxury tax thresholds are based on the 40 man roster, making this scenario even more unlikely. The Yankees are going to have to make a decision in the coming years. Do they want to play the luxury tax game? Do they want to break the bank for Hamels? And if they do the latter, how do they replace the production of the players they let go? The biggest hit will occur in the outfield if/when they let people go. I think it’s safe to say that one of Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher will not be on the Yankees in 2014 if they want to sign Hamels. If they decide that they just can’t replace that OF production, perhaps they go cheaper with pitching in 2014 and try for someone like Shaun Marcum, Anibal Sanchez, or Brandon McCarthy.
Of course, this could just be remarkable posturing. I’m not sure where it would get them, but I won’t believe this $189M thing until I see it. While making money is the ultimate goal of any business, the Yankees value winning over just about everything.
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