Masahiro Tanaka's signing may not push the Yankees' payroll over $189 million after all. Credit: Reuters
Yankees managing partner Hal Steinbrenner's proclamation two years ago to keep the team's payroll under $189 million by 2014 is well known by now.
But the Yankees sure didn't look like a team keeping their payroll low this offseason.
The team had already signed big-name free agents Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran before breaking out another $155 million for Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka on Wednesday. After the rival Red Sox claimed their third World Series in a decade last October, Steinbrenner's "goal" to get the payroll under $189 million sure seems like it's out the window.
"We're going to do what we've got to do to win," Yankees co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner, brother of Hal, told the AP by phone on Wednesday. "Anybody that questioned our commitment to winning is going to have to question themselves."
The team's 2013 Opening Day payroll was $228.1 million, but Robinson Cano left for Seattle and both Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera retired — taking $37 million with them. The Yankees could also save $25 million, sans a $3 million bonus, on Alex Rodriguez, who has been suspended for the 2014 season.
Breaking down the payroll ...
CC Sabathia: $23 million Mark Teixeira: $22.5 million Masahiro Tanaka: $22.1 million Jacoby Ellsbury: $21 million Brian McCann: $17 million Hiroki Kuroda: $16 million Carlos Beltran: $15 million Derek Jeter: $12 million Total: $148.6 million
Ichiro Suzuki: $6.5 million Brett Gardner: $5.6 million David Robertson: $5.2 million Alfonso Soriano: $5 million (Cubs pay remaining $13 million) Matt Thornton: $3.5 million Ivan Nova: $3.3 million Kelly Johnson: $3 million Brian Roberts: $2 million Brendan Ryan: $2 million Shawn Kelley: $1.8 million Francisco Cervelli: $700,000 Total: $38.6 million
TOTAL PAYROLL: $187.2 million
All other players (i.e., Michael Pineda or Austin Romine) essentially make right around the league minimum of $400,000 to $500,000 as pre-arbitration eligible players.
The payroll above is for 19 players, meaning the Yankees have six more spots available. Most, such as fifth starter-candidate David Phelps, will be under $1 million, making the 2014 Opening Day payroll likely to come in around that $189 million threshold — though likely a couple million over.
Unless, of course, Rodriguez wins his court case.
Follow Metro New York Sports Editor Mark Osborne on Twitter@MetroNYSports.