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Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

The Yankees Deserve to Pay a Luxury Tax

MLB’s new collective bargaining agreement would impose some pretty harsh penalties on the New York Yankees if the team signed another big free agent before the start of the season. The team’s payroll is already around $291 million for 2024. If they were to cross the $297 million threshold, they’d face a 110% luxury tax. This tax was reportedly a major barrier to the Yankees’ attempts to sign last year’s National League Cy Young winner Blake Snell. 

Although this tax might be worrisome to the Yankees front office, fans who have invested a lot of their own hard-earned money on tickets and merchandise aren’t concerned with owner Hal Steinbrenner’s wallet. All they care about is winning a World Series. 

GM Brian Cashman has maintained that having baseball’s highest payroll is not necessary to win. He’s right, of course, but he’s also missing the bigger picture. If the Yankees spent their vast fortune as wisely as the low-budget Tampa Bay Rays, fans wouldn’t demand a higher payroll. 

Compare the Yankees to big market teams with hefty budgets. The Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves, Houston Astros, Boston Red Sox, Texas Rangers, Chicago Cubs, New York Mets, San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers have all made a World Series appearance within the last decade. The Yankees? Not so much. 

In fact, the only teams projected to be in the top 10 of 2024 payrolls that haven’t played a World Series game in the last 10 years are the Yankees and the Toronto Blue Jays. They will probably spend around $70 million more this season than Toronto, and have been outspending them for years. Taking all that into consideration, it’s hard not to come to the conclusion that the Yankees' front office is exceptionally bad at delivering results (i.e., getting to the World Series).

The success of the Bombers this year may depend on a handful of players having comeback seasons, namely Carlos Rodon, Anthony Rizzo, Giancarlo Stanton, DJ LeMahieu and Nestor Cortes Jr.. There are good reasons to think that at least a couple of them will prevail. But the Yankees, currently worth an estimated $7 billion, should acquire a couple more players as an insurance policy.

New York needs another starting pitcher, and they need an experienced, reliable utility bench player (one hopefully with some power). After missing the playoffs last season, it’s time for Steinbrenner to pay his taxes, both to MLB and to perpetually disappointed Yankees fans.

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