Via David Waldstein -
The Yankees settled all of their arbitration-eligible cases on Friday as their payroll crept closer to the $189 million threshold for luxury-tax purposes. If the Yankees were to sign the coveted Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka before the Jan. 24 deadline, they would almost certainly surge past the mark.
The Yankees agreed to terms with Brett Gardner for $5.6 million, Ivan Nova for $3.3 million, David Robertson for $5.215 million and Shawn Kelly for $1.8 million on Friday, and Francisco Cervelli for $700,000 on Thursday.
With the Yankees not having to pay the suspended Alex Rodriguez, their payroll is hovering around $170 million. But they still have administrative costs and non-arbitration players to factor in, and that will take the total over $180 million. The final calculation is made at the end of the season.
Tanaka could easily command a contract over $100 million, with an annual average salary above $18 million, making it almost impossible for the Yankees to sign him and keep the payroll under $189 million. Hal Steinbrenner, the Yankees’ managing general partner, told reporters at the recent owners meetings in Arizona that the Yankees needed to sign an additional pitcher. He has also repeatedly said that the goal of staying under $189 million will not be achieved at the expense of fielding a championship team.
I know that the Yankees, Dodgers, Diamondbacks, White Sox and Cubs all have offers into Tanaka – with nearly all clubs putting together offers worth more than $100 million over six years.
But, I betcha that the Yankees brass is all secretly hoping that he goes to another team – so that they can then say to their fans “Hey, we tried.” And, then, they can stick to their goal of having a payroll under $189.
And, let’s face it, if you’re going to go over $189 million, then you might as well blast right past it. To miss the number by a million or two is just plain stupid.