The Yankees expect to shave $23 million off their payroll this winter.
No, you didn’t misread that. After two days of organizational meetings that included owner George Steinbrenner, the Bombers’ top brass have decided to pare down the cost of their roster from a major league-high $208 million in 2009 to about $185 million next season.
That doesn’t mean GM Brian Cashman will shy away from any of the elite players on the market this winter, though.
In fact, Sports Illustrated’s Jon Heyman reports via Twitter that the Yankees plan to make a competitive bid for Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay.
The Yankees also must determine which free agents they want to bring back for 2010 and beyond. Left-hander Andy Pettitte is expected to return on a one-year deal, unless he opts for retirement. Outfielder Johnny Damon and designated hitter Hideki Matsui, meanwhile, are looking for multiyear deals.
“Thankfully, we have a lot of answers already on our roster, but there are still areas of need that we need to address,” Cashman told ESPN.com.
Cashman also indicated that he intends to meet with the representatives for marquee free agents like Matt Holliday and John Lackey at the winter meetings, although he stopped short of saying that the Yankees would be major players in the race for either player.
A possible concern for the Yankees is that they already have $166 million in payroll commitments for 2010, not counting arbitration raises to young standouts like Robinson Cano or the cost of bringing back their own free agents.
Cot’s Contracts indicates that New York also has $118.1 million committed for 2011, $99.6 million already on the books for 2012, and $95.4 million out of the budget for 2013. All of those figures — comprised primarily of the megadeals signed by Alex Rodriguez, CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, and A.J. Burnett — are more than $100 million higher than any other team.
Cutting costs on the remainder of their roster may therefore be a priority for the Yankees over the coming few years. And getting down to $185 million this winter would be a good start.