Somewhere in the deepest, darkest recesses of Yankee Stadium, Brian Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner are dancing.
It’s not a pretty sight (hence the darkness), but the general manager and principal owner of the New York Yankees are doing the "Dance of Joy" with as much fervor and passion as Larry Appleton and Balki Bartokomous did more than 20 years ago.
For the bane of their existence, Alex Rodriguez, is soon to be out of the picture.
Major League Baseball announced that it has suspended Rodriguez through the 2014 season on Monday as a result of its investigation into the Biogenesis Anti-Aging clinic in Miami, a total of 211 games:
And the Yankees couldn't be happier.
Rodriguez is expected to appeal the decision, a process that allows him to play until a hearing can be scheduled, something that likely won't happen for at least a month, as alluded to by ESPN New York's Andrew Marchand on ESPN's SportsCenter, prior to the official announcement of the suspension.
That works for the Yankees, who are trying to stay in contention and need all the help that they can get, even if it's from A-Rod.
To say that Rodriguez and the team have had a strained relationship lately would be a gross understatement, as both sides have vented their frustration with the other through the media.
While there's some personal satisfaction being felt by team executives, it's the prospect of Rodriguez missing all of the 2014 season that is at the root of the team's glee.
For not only does the team not have to pay A-Rod during the length of his suspension, but his salary doesn't count against the team's luxury tax number. If you remember, it was it was in spring training last year when Steinbrenner issued his luxury tax-related edict: (h/t The Journal News)
The 189 in two years is definitely a goal of ours. We’re not too far off. We’re going to have a very similar payroll this year to last year, but I think we have a better team. Somewhat of an accomplishment I guess, on paper anyway. We’ll see. But yes, that 189 is a real number, and we’re going to be shooting for it.
I’m looking at it as a goal, but my goals are normally considered a requirement. Is it a requirement with baseball that we be at $189 (million)? No, it’s not a requirement. But that is going to be the luxury tax threshold and that’s where I want to be.
Removing A-Rod's $25 million salary in 2014 makes achieving that goal significantly easier.
The immediate results will be seen in the team's negotiations with Robinson Cano this winter, as re-signing the team's best player just became a far less daunting task than it appeared before A-Rod's suspension.
But the biggest impact will be felt in 2015 and beyond, a fact that wasn't lost on former New York Yankees and current Baltimore manager Buck Showalter, who vented his frustration to USA Today's Paul White:
"If Bud lets them get away with that, they're under the luxury tax. If they can reset, they can spend again and I guarantee you in two years Matt Wieters is in New York."
What Showalter is referring to, of course, is that not only will the Yankees not have to pay the luxury tax for the first time, but if they choose to exceed it in 2015 to sign, say, Wieters and Clayton Kershaw, their penalty for doing so will be charged at its lowest level.
Since 2011, the Yankees have been paying fifty cents of every dollar that they spend over the luxury tax threshold into the competitive balance fund. Beginning in 2003, 95 percent of all the money deposited into that fund has come from the Bronx.
Should the Yankees decide to exceed the luxury tax again in 2015, when the free agent market will be far more enticing than it is this year, the team would pay less than 18 cents of every dollar spent.
While that might not seem like a gigantic difference, it is.
According to Cot's Contracts, the Yankees payroll this season is $228,106,125. Take a look at what the team's estimated luxury tax bill is in 2013 and the impact that the lower rate would have made on the that charge: (Luxury tax rates via FanGraphs)
|2013 Luxury Tax Bill|
|At Highest Rate (50%)||$25,053,062|
|At Lowest Rate (17.5%)||$8,768,571|
So while 2013 has been frustrating and more pain may await next season, the Yankees are poised to do what they do best just over a year from now: be major players on the free agent market.
It's rebuilding, Yankees' style—and only a few teams can compete with that. While it doesn't always guarantee a World Series championship, it almost always finds the team in the thick of the playoff race.
So, were the Yankees rooting for A-Rod to be suspended?
Not only were the Yankees rooting for it, they were praying to the baseball gods for it. Praying that—even if for only a year—the team would get a reprieve from his burdensome mistake of a contract.
On Monday afternoon, the gods answered those prayers.
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