Ellsbury Deal: Depends on the Yankees’ Plan

**Note** This blog was originally posted on December 4, 2013.  Due to site upgrades, we had to repost this on December 23.

According to everything we’ve heard over the past few years, the Yankees have no plans to go over the luxury tax for this coming year. They are trying to get under the $189 million limit to avoid the harsh penalties for repeat offenders.  Here’s the problem. The Yankees are now on the hook for about $140 mil for a grand total of ten players.  Only one of those players, CC Sabathia, is a sparknotes version of this story is that won’t resign Cano and stay under the luxury tax… unless MLB beats A-Rod on his appeal, and his entire salary comes off the books for this year.  I don’t see that happening.  The guy who hit Bronson Arroyo with his purse might be an asshole, but I don’t think he would’ve stormed out of a meeting saying that MLB had nothing if they actually had him dead.  His suspension will probably get reduced to 50 games, meaning that the Yankees will be on the hook for just enough of his salary to keep them from staying under the threshold and resigning Cano.  It’s just hard to see one of the most powerful unions in the world getting slapped around by MLB on some charges with no precedent for how many games they’ve even suspending him for.

So, will the Yankees go over the tax threshold?  The Red Sox’s borderline orgasmic season (for us Sox fans, at least) might have lit a spark under the Yankees brass to spend a little more… or they might have just realized that an MLB team reaping from the league’s new TV deals and with its own freakin YES Network crying poverty is a complete joke.  The Yankees can absolutely spend over the tax line, it’s just a question of whether or not they want to.

If they do, the Ellsbury signing is fine.  He’s a star center fielder who will help them a ton, so long as he’s healthy.  And if the Yanks are going to be printing money anyway, they don’t have to care if he’s overpriced.  But if they don’t want to go over the tax, which I pray that they cop out and choose not to, then this was a terrible move.  They have a center fielder, and Robinson Cano is just a better player at a more necessary position with a better health track record.  Minor details.  If they don’t want to pay the tax, then not only did the Yankees render themselves hamstrung, but they are also using a gun that the Red Sox handed them to shoot themselves in the foot.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but let’s pray like hell for Alex Rodriguez in court. Support the players union and innocent until proven guilty and say screw common sense and his overall douchiness.

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