For a year, New York Yankee fans have fretted over the directive from managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner that payroll would be cut to less than the $189 million luxury-tax threshold by the time the 2014 season rolled around.
The logic behind the move was sound: The penalties for having a payroll in excess of $189 million would get much more prohibitive when the new provisions of the latest collective bargaining agreement kick in next season.
So after two consecutive offseasons with the Yankees mere spectators as the biggest names in free agency landed elsewhere and with players doing the previously unthinkable, such as the regular catcher for the Yankees opting to go to the Pittsburgh Pirates, for crying out loud, in order to get more money, it appears Steinbrenner is softening on his stance.
Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com cited a source as saying, “This is the first time since George died that it appears a Steinbrenner is actually running the Yankees.”
Matthews translated that to mean that the $189 million edict is done. The only thing about to be cut in the Bronx is checks with lots of zeroes on them.
Matthews cites a pair of factors behind the decision to rescind “the decision.”
First and foremost, the Yankees appear to want desperately to hold onto free-agent-to-be Robinson Cano, going so far as to break a decades-old club policy regarding the offering of contract extensions while a player, or manager, is still under contract.
The second, more esoteric, reason cited by Matthews was that, according to “the proverbial insider with knowledge,” the fan reaction to the $189 million edict took Steinbrenner aback. More to the point, the source told Matthews that Steinbrenner was “freaked out” by the negative reaction to the talk of slashing payroll.
Apparently, someone within the organization—perhaps the well-known finance geek Steinbrenner himself—ran the numbers are came to the same conclusion many of us on the outside had already figured out. Cutting tens of millions of dollars off the payroll could end up costing the franchise more than 10 times that much over the long haul because the brand would be less prestigious.
In any event, it appears there is a new sheriff in town. He looks like the new boss, but appears to be willing to spend like the old one.