The Yankees will enter the 2018 season with their lowest payroll since 2003, and their lowest ranking since 1992. Having the seventh-highest payroll in the league is fairly low for the Yanks, but expectations for this particular iteration of the team are just as high as the Core Four-led squads.
For more than 25 consecutive seasons, the Yankees featured a payroll that easily ranked as a top-five in baseball, a streak that will end come Opening Day. The front office believes (approximately) $167 million is enough to field a more than qualified team, and have stated from time-to time that the highest payroll is not a direct correlation to the most wins, or championships, for that matter.
Evidence of this comes from Fangraphs.com, where they explain the relationship between winning and payroll is not very strong at all. Teams teams such as the 2012-14 Oakland A’s, 2014/15 Royals, and 2016 Mets, all reached the playoffs with their respective payrolls ranking nowhere near the top-ten in the league.
“I’ve been in Oakland most of my career. This seems big to me,” Sonny Gray told ESPN. “I don’t know if all the time money dictates talent. But we have a ton of talent.”
Gone are the days of George’s Yankees throwing money at every big free agent fish in the market. These days, Hal’s team prefers to draft wisely and build from within, while spending money on players needed to fill gaps throughout the roster. Recent examples of this include Matt Holliday filling the DH role last season, and Neil Walker shoring up the infield this season.
This plan of action, highlighted by Brian Cashman, is an effort to get under the $197 million luxury-tax line. By following this mandate, the team will save millions by having their tax rates reset, allocating that cash towards improving the already stacked roster.
“I think it’s good for the game,” CC Sabathia said. “Shows where the game is at as far as moneywise. Hopefully that translates into more signings next offseason.”
So much for the Yankees buying their championships.