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New York Yankees’ Payroll Reality Impacts Pitching Pursuit, Crucial Snell and Montgomery Talks at Risk

Published 02/20/2024, 10:30 AM EST

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Who has the best starting rotation in baseball? Does “buying a championship” still work in the modern-day MLB? Will the New York Yankees be burned by luxury tax penalties in their push for another World Series ring? These are just some of the questions surrounding the Bronx Bombers with their 2024 Spring Training underway.

The Yankees, who are usually known for their big-spending tactics, are surprisingly hesitant about adding significant free agent pieces. It appears staying under the luxury tax threshold is a major factor in their decision-making this year.

Despite a glaring need for more pitching depth, the New York Yankees are balking at high-priced free agents like Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery. With their competitive balance tax payroll (an estimated $307 million per Cot’s Contracts) already brushing up against the league’s prohibitive luxury tax tier of $297 million, every additional dollar spent carries a heavy penalty.

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Sources, speaking to The Athletic on condition of anonymity, stated that the Yankees would incur a 110 percent tax on every dollar spent above the threshold. Essentially, signing Snell to a hypothetical $40 million, one-year deal would actually cost the Yankees an eye-watering $84 million, keeping the calculations in mind.

While the New York Yankees boast a fearsome top of the rotation in Gerrit Cole, Nestor Cortes Jr., and a rejuvenated Carlos Rodon, there’s a worrying lack of proven depth. Both Cortes and Rodon have checkered injury histories, leaving a sense of unease within the fanbase.

Clarke Schmidt, who stepped into a full-time starting role last season, was inconsistent. Furthermore, offseason trades depleted the Bombers’ pitching reserves, adding more question marks about long-term rotation durability.

Watch This Story: An Off-Season Market, Controlled By Scott Boras, Slow Down With His Leading Clients’ Mega Anticipation

Snell and Montgomery: Potential Solutions at a Cost for New York Yankees’ Rotation Woes

The team has reportedly made an offer to Snell without opt-outs—likely one with a longer-term structure to minimize the CBT hit. It is unclear if a counteroffer or compromise remains likely considering the luxury tax obstacle. However, several industry speculations vouch for “short-term deals with high average annual values that would allow them to secure paydays now and retest the market later.”

Though that option might be deemed a good fit for Jordan Montgomery, an appealing rotation stabilizer, it may not be worth forfeiting draft picks for Snell because of the attached qualifying offer penalty brought upon by his rejection of the San Diego Padres’ deal. It’s a complicated calculation for the Pinstripers as they weigh potential playoff gains against long-term ramifications.

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General Manager Brian Cashman, seldom the one to prematurely rule out options, acknowledges pitching as a primary concern. The door isn’t entirely closed on Snell or Montgomery yet, but a resolution could linger deeper into Spring Training. The veteran indicated he welcomes discussions with agent Scott Boras about crafting possible deals for any of his free agent clients.

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For Yankee fans yearning for a return to their free-spending, championship-hungry ways, this winter offers a harsh dose of financial reality. While adding star power certainly bolsters championship chances, the modern luxury tax system has complicated that old formula.

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Read More: Blake Snell to Yankees in the Works? Bombers’ Lefty Ace Links Continue Despite Stalled Sweepstakes

Will financial frugality prove costly for the New York Yankees’ postseason dreams? Or can the team’s young pitchers provide the unexpected depth needed for a World Series run? The interplay between roster economics and on-field performance will make for a fascinating story this season.

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Written by:

Shrabana Sengupta

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One take at a time

"Those who gaze outward dream, but those who turn inward awaken." A pro-writer for MLB EssentiallySports, I’ve been a fan of the New York Yankees since my school days. In my adolescent years, I was introduced to the iconic franchise through one of my beloved Friends characters, Joey.
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Edited by:

Deepanshi Bajaj