When the Yankees say they want to get under the luxury tax threshold so they don’t have to pay extra money, they’re not joking.
That “extra money” is enough to field an entire team — or pay an entire Robinson Cano for a season.
Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Yankees have a record $29.1 million luxury tax penalty this year, which is only a tad shy of the Houston Astros’ entire payroll for the season, at $29.2 million. The Yankees have a $236.2 million payroll, and they are required to pay a 50 percent tax on all salary over the $178 million threshold since they are a repeat violator.
That threshold rises to $189 million next year, and the Yankees have talked often about how they want to get under it, at least for a season. If they can get their payroll under that mark for one year, their tax penalty will reset and be lower should they pass the threshold again, according to the luxury tax rules.
The Dodgers are also taking a hit for their $234.5 million payroll this year, although they only have to pay $9.9 million since it’s their first time breaking the mark. Dodgers president Stan Kasten told USA Today that the team has spent heavily because it is rebuilding but plans to be “mindful of the tax” in the future.
The Yankees have paid the luxury tax every season since it began 10 years ago, but they picked a rough time to try to get under the threshold now. The team is struggling to make the playoffs this year with an old, highly paid roster, and Cano, the club’s star second baseman, hits free agency in his prime this offseason. At any other point, the Yankees would be a shoo-in to lock up Cano long-term, but luxury tax concerns cloud their willingness to do so now.