The Yankees have had a payroll around $206 million for years now so it doesn’t seem like a huge stretch for them to get below the $189 million mark before harsher penalties under the new collective bargaining agreement are enacted.
However, with roughly $90 million already committed to just four players (Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia, and Derek Jeter) it’s not going to be as easy as it appears. Perhaps the biggest hurdle will be Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson, who both are set to become free agents after the 2013 season and could fetch as much as $20 million each or more.
However, team president Randy Levine told Jon Heyman of CBS Sports that the plan to get under $189 million includes both Cano and Granderson.
“The plan contemplates Cano, Granderson and a full championship team,” Levine said.
If the Yankees managed to sign both players at $20 million each that would leave them with roughly $60 million to spend on 19 other players. That’s $60 million for a catcher, at least one outfielder, a DH (or a third baseman), four rotation spots, a bullpen, and the bench.
Now a lot of that can be filled with young, relatively cheap players. But it does mean that a lot of tough decisions need to be made. Russell Martin and Nick Swisher are two of the biggest and most immediate players they’ll need to decide on. Phil Hughes will also be a free agent after the the 2013 and Joba Chamberlain very well could be too.
Now the thing is that this quote is coming from Randy Levine and not Brian Cashman and most of you know that Levine is the one responsible for the worst contract on this team: Alex Rodriguez, Rafael Soriano, and Derek Jeter. This very well be a man known for giving out bad contracts talking out of turn. Cashman is the real person in charge of this stuff and when he is allowed to do his thing he is much more fiscally conservative than Levine. I can’t help but think that Levine could be speaking out of turn or will talked out of this by Cashman.
It’s not that Cashman wouldn’t necessarily want both Cano and Granderson it’s just that he can be trusted to be much smarter about this. A lot can happen between now and then. Unexpected players can hit the trade market or one of the Yankees outfield prospects could develop into a strong replacement. Heck, even David Adams might give the Yankees to think twice about just offering Cano a $20 million average annual deal.
I’d like to see both players kept, but I’d rather see Levine stay out of it.
Of course there is the possibility the Yankees could extend them before their contracts are up. If they did it after they exercised each player’s 2013 options then that could help them save some cash toward the luxury tax as that would lower their average annual values. It might not be a lot, but even a little flexibility would go a long way.