The 2013 non-waiver trade deadline is fast approaching, and MLB contenders are deciding how much money is available to be spent from their respective war chests.
One important consideration for contenders will be the luxury-tax threshold, which will be upped to $189 million for the start of the 2014 season.
First-time offenders or any team that didn't go over the previous year will have to pay a 17.5 percent tax penalty on every dollar above the $189 million threshold. The scale continues to slide upwards to 50 percent for four-time and multiple continuous offenders.
The New York Yankees, for example, will have to pay the 50 percent tax if they can't get their payroll under the threshold by the start of next season.
Still, there will be plenty of teams who are willing to add extra salary if it means a possible shot at an elusive World Series title.
Based on the tax threshold, let's open up the books and see what will be available for contenders to spend as we approach July 31.
Salary info courtesy of baseball-reference.com
Team payroll information courtesy of baseballprospectus.com
Opening Day Payroll 2013: $154 million (approximate)
Plus/Minus Luxury-Tax Threshold for 2014: $35 million under
The Boston Red Sox have been known to be big spenders over the years. However, that trend has seemed to cease in the past year or so, as the Red Sox have put a stop to their wild-spending ways. This trend was evident last season with the post-trade deadline fire sale of almost $260 million worth of future-contract obligations.
The fire sale helped the Red Sox get under the luxury-tax threshold and has given them some flexibility as we approach the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
Red Sox principal owner John Henry recently told Sean McAdam of Comcast Sportsnet New England that he doesn’t see the luxury-tax threshold being a big issue.
"I suppose there might be some (larger) salaries that we couldn't take on, but it just doesn't come up as an issue," Henry told csnne.com.
The Red Sox are about $35 million below the threshold and currently sit in first place in the AL East with a 58-39 record. This little bit of flexibility gave the Red Sox the ability to add Matt Thornton from the White Sox last week and should help them as they look to shore up third base.
Opening Day Payroll 2013: $228 million (approximate)
Plus/Minus Luxury-Tax Threshold for 2014: $39 million over
Don’t expect the Yankees to be big spenders at the trade deadline.
The Yankees have made it a mission to try to get under the $189 million luxury-tax threshold for the start of the 2014 season. As a result, there is a high probability the Yankees will not go on a spending spree before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
The reason is because the collective bargaining rules state that in 2014, any team who has exceeded the salary cap four or more times will have to pay a 50 percent tax on each dollar over the threshold.
The Yankees have exceeded the cap threshold every year since it was instituted in 2003 and are in line to pay the 50 percent penalty. Based on their opening day 2013 payroll, the Yankees would have to pay $19.5 million in taxes if they opened next season with the same $228 million total-team salary.
Still, the Yankees could make a minor deal or two to acquire a bat they sorely need.
Cashman told George King of the New York Post that additions could come via the trade route as well as in the return of players currently on the disabled list.
“You have to wait and see, play it out. We need to improve offensively, and that will come with additions,’’ Cashman said. “We look forward to getting guys back. If I can run into a trade, all the better.”
The Yankees will most likely make a few small moves, but don’t expect them to take on any massive contracts.
Opening Day Payroll 2013: $148 million (approximate)
Plus/Minus Luxury-Tax Threshold for 2014: $41 million under
The Tigers could be significant players before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. Detroit opened the 2013 season $41 million under the luxury-tax threshold. If recent history is any indication, there is a good chance the Tigers will be willing to spend in efforts to return to the World Series
The Tigers have eclipsed the $100 million team-salary plateau every season since 2008. They acquired both Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante last season in pre-deadline deals and Doug Fister the season prior.
Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski could be active again this summer, and one possible target could be Tim Lincecum. The 29-year-old right-hander recently threw a no-hitter and, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com, could be on the Tigers' radar.
Lincecum is making $22 million with the San Francisco Giants this season, and the Tigers would have to work out the particulars on any salary remaining in a potential deal. It’s all speculation at this point, but Lincecum could help the Tigers in a variety of ways—including the bullpen if they choose to do so.
Opening Day Payroll 2013: $80 million (approximate)
Plus/Minus Luxury-Tax Threshold for 2014: $109 million under
The Cleveland Indians were active participants during the 2012-13 offseason by adding Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn to the roster. Even with those acquisitions, the Indians are over $100 million below the luxury-tax threshold. As Cleveland enters the second half of the season in the thick of the AL Central and wild-card races, there is a good chance more spending could be on the way.
One potential trade acquisition could come in the form of the Chicago Cubs' Matt Garza. According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, the Indians have looked into acquiring starting pitching depth in the form of Garza and the Milwaukee Brewers' Yovani Gallardo.
Garza is earning $10.25 million in 2013 and will be a free agent at the end of the season. A potential Garza trade would give the Indians another arm to go with Justin Masterson at the top of the rotation.
Opening Day Payroll 2013: $61 million (approximate)
Plus/Minus Luxury-Tax Threshold for 2014: $128 million under
Another team that finds itself way below the luxury-tax threshold is the Oakland A’s. The A’s entered the 2013 season $128 million below the luxury-tax threshold—which has been commonplace during the Billy Beane “Moneyball” era.
There is a good chance that the A’s will open up their checkbooks and spend some money before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. The possibility will become much greater if Oakland loses Bartolo Colon to suspension due to his alleged involvement with the BioGenesis clinic.
But at the moment, it seems manager Bob Melvin thinks the A’s are just fine the way they are, as he said via Twitter to John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Melvin on trades: "If the front office feels it needs to do something . . . I’d be all for that. But I like our team right now.” #athletics— John Shea (@JohnSheaHey) July 3, 2013
There has not been a lot of chatter involving the A’s acquiring anybody significant before the deadline, but things can change rather quickly. The A’s enter the second half of the season with a two-game lead over the Texas Rangers in the AL West.
Opening Day Payroll 2013: $125 million (approximate)
Plus/Minus Luxury-Tax Threshold for 2014: $64 million under
The Rangers have been slowly increasing salary since 2004, and it could continue this trend by adding more before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com believes that the Rangers would like to add someone like the Phillies' Cliff Lee if he is available on the trade market. Lee is 10-3 with a 2.86 ERA in 19 starts with the Phillies this season. He is also owed $77.5 million for the remainder of his contract, with a $12.5 million buyout in 2016.
The Rangers have $64 million worth of wiggle room if they decide to add more salary before the end of the season.
Opening Day Payroll 2013: $90 million (approximate)
Plus/Minus Luxury-Tax Threshold for 2014: $99 million under
It was a busy offseason for Atlanta, as they added both Justin and B.J. Upton to the outfield fold for an estimated $113 million in future salary.
The Braves could be active players via the trade market, as they are still $99 million below the luxury-tax threshold. One player who could be on their radar is Yankees reliever Joba Chamberlain.
According to George King and Dan Martin via the New York Post, it was reported earlier this month that the Braves could be interested in the Yankees right-handed reliever. Chamberlain has had an up and down career and is having a so-so 2013 with the Yankees—going 1-0 with a 5.40 ERA in 25 appearances.
Acquiring Chamberlain may not be the best idea for Atlanta as he has battled injuries during the past couple of seasons. Atlanta has already lost Eric O'Flaherty and Jonny Venters to season-ending Tommy John surgeries, and Chamberlain underwent the procedure in 2011 as well.
Still, being $99 million below the tax number gives the Braves the flexibility to add where needed.
Opening Day Payroll 2013: $159 million (approximate)
Plus/Minus Luxury-Tax Threshold for 2014: $30 million under
The Phillies will most likely be sellers, even though they are six games out entering the second half of the season. Being close to the $189 million luxury-tax threshold and teetering on the brink of contention could be enough incentive for Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. to start unloading salary.
ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark does believe that the Phillies could be sellers as we approach the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, and several big names could be available. Both Jonathan Papelbon and Chase Utley were mentioned as potential trade chips that could be made available.
Unless the Phillies start off the second half of the season on a hot streak, there is a good chance some players could be unloaded before the deadline. It is also unlikely, at this time, that Amaro Jr. will be adding any more additional salary.
It’s probably safe to say the Phillies won’t be spending much as the trade deadline approaches.
Opening Day Payroll 2013: $116 million (approximate)
Plus/Minus Luxury-Tax Threshold for 2014: $73 million under
One team that may be active as the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline approaches is the Cardinals. The Cards are currently leading the NL Central by a game and could be one of the spenders as the trade deadline approaches.
According to ESPN Insider Buster Olney, one player who has been garnishing a lot of attention from St. Louis is Cleveland Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera. The 27-year-old is signed with Cleveland until the end of the 2014 season. He is making $6.5 million this season and due $10 million in 2014.
The Cardinals are $73 million under the luxury-tax threshold and could easily take on Cabrera’s remaining salary. They also have the flexibility to spend more in efforts to reinforce their relief corps as well.
Opening Day Payroll 2013: $66 million (approximate)
Plus/Minus Luxury-Tax Threshold for 2014: $123 million under
The Pirates find themselves in an unfamiliar position entering the second half of the season as potential buyers while the non-waiver trade deadline approaches. The Bucs are currently in second place in the NL Central with a 56-37 record.
Their rather miniscule payroll, $66 million at the start of 2013, gives them some flexibility as they look to finish with a winning record for the first time in nearly two decades.
One area where they could add some payroll is in the starting pitching department. Several media outlets, including CBSLocal Pittsburgh, have echoed a story by CSNChicago’s David Kaplan that Matt Garza is being shopped by the Cubs, and the Pirates are one of the potential suitors.
Acquiring Garza would give Pittsburgh another arm to plug into their starting rotation. He is currently 6-1 with a 3.17 ERA in 11 starts with the Cubs this season. He is making $10.25 million this season and will be a free agent this upcoming winter—a possible incentive for Pittsburgh to go after his services.
The Pirates are far below the luxury-tax threshold but are not known to be big spenders. The highest the Pirates payroll has been in the past decade, prior to this year, was in 2003—when they were a little below $55 million. The Pirates may make a play for Garza, but if recent history is any indicator, don’t expect a major shopping spree.
Opening Day Payroll 2013: $86 million (approximate)
Plus/Minus Luxury-Tax Threshold for 2014: $103 million under
The Diamondbacks find themselves perched on top of the NL West entering the second half of the season. They have been able to accomplish this feat with what amounts to a modest payroll compared to other big spenders such as the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
One potential area where Arizona could wind up spending is in the starting pitching department.
Diamondbacks are among the teams talking about Jake Peavy, and CWS have had scouts on hand at Arizona games; they've seen Randall Delgado.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 12, 2013
The Peavy to Arizona proposed trade could make sense, as Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers is familiar with the right-hander from his days in San Diego. Peavy has been sidelined with a left rib fracture injury and has posted a 6-4 record with a 4.30 ERA in 11 starts with the Chicago White Sox.
Peavy is due $14.5 million in 2014 and holds and can exercise a player-performance option of $15 million if he hits several performance benchmarks.
The Diamondbacks may not be willing to spend much, as they have not exceeded $100 million in team salary since 2002. Acquiring Peavy could put them close to the $100 million mark. It will be interesting to see whether or not Towers makes any moves.
Opening Day Payroll 2013: $216 million (approximate)
Plus/Minus Luxury-Tax Threshold for 2014: $27 million over
The Dodgers have taken a page from the New York Yankees and have decided to spend with reckless abandon. The new philosophy of winning at all costs has been no more evident during the past year as the Dodgers total salary has ballooned to $216 million.
The Dodgers recently acquired the oft-maligned closer Carlos Marmol from the Chicago Cubs and Ricky Nolasco from the Miami Marlins. They have also been rumored to be interested in trading for the services of the Cubs' Matt Garza.
It seems that the Guggenheim Group is willing to spend whatever it needs to secure the Dodgers their first World Series championship since 1988. Don’t be surprised if they open up the war chest and spend more money to improve their club.