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Reputed Insider Rules Yankees Out on Blake Snell, Cost Doubles Due to Payroll Problems

Published 02/26/2024, 5:45 AM EST

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The New York Yankees, in need of pitching depth this season, seem to have closed the door on signing star pitcher Blake Snell, according to both reputed insider Jack Curry and sources within the Yankees’ organization. While Snell remains unsigned, reports indicate the team’s luxury tax situation may be a major obstacle to making a deal happen.

Sources speaking to The Athletic’s Brendan Kuty and Chris Kirschner confirm that the Yankees’ projected Competitive Balance Tax payroll for this year is already standing above the league’s highest luxury tax level of $297 million—at a whopping $307 million. Signing Snell could come with a hefty financial burden. Why?

Any dollar spent above the threshold is subject to a 110% tax. For a hypothetical $40 million deal, the Yankees would face an additional $44 million in tax penalties, doubling the overall cost. There are implications surrounding the negotiations and the high cost of short-term deals as opposed to the long-term tenure that Blake Snell and his agent, Scott Boras, have been seeking.

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The Yankees did make a contract offer to Snell, but sources say it lacked opt-out clauses, potentially indicating a desire for a longer-term commitment to soften the tax blow. While the Bombers are certainly interested in Snell, a short-term, high-value “pillow” contract—rumored for some of Boras’ clients—might not be the most financially prudent move for New York.

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The Yankees would also forfeit draft picks due to Snell’s rejected qualifying offer from his previous team, the San Diego Padres, adding to the cost of signing the two-time Cy Young winner. And the Pinstripers have something to say about that.

While Aaron Boone remains confident in the club’s depth, Brian Cashman remains open to exploring options

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Despite the financial complications, the Bombers have an undeniably strong rotation headed by ace Gerrit Cole. Behind him, the lineup boasts Carlos Rodón and Nestor Cortes, both with stellar potential but injury concerns. Several Yankees players reportedly speak highly of Snell, with Cole and Rodón (both Boras clients themselves) praising his arsenal and postseason experience.

However, manager Aaron Boone remains confident in the club’s depth, stating, “I do feel like, considering what we lost in some trades this year, I think we’re in a much better depth position than maybe I even expected.” It looks like the door might not be completely shut on the possibility of Blake Snell becoming a Yankee—not just yet.

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Although the path forward looks challenging, GM Brian Cashman remains open to exploring options as the season approaches, including the possibility of revisiting talks with Boras. He noted a few days ago, “We’re always open-minded… I don’t have ‘blocked’ on my call sheet for any agents.” 

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Will the Bombers surprise fans with a surprise Blake Snell signing, despite the financial complexities? It’s a storyline worth watching as the season unfolds. The potential is there, but the Yankees will need to find a way to balance their championship ambitions with their very real financial constraints. Will a creative contract structure emerge, or has this potential blockbuster officially fizzled out?

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Written by:

Shrabana Sengupta

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Shrabana Sengupta is an MLB writer at EssentiallySports. Shrabana shot to fame when she covered two prime MLB events: the 2023 World Series and the Free Agency that followed. During the 2023 World Series, Shrabana wrote her unfeigned perspectives on the Texas Rangers’ Corey Seager and his wife, the 27x World Series Champions’ heartbreaking season, and later covered Shohei Ohtani’s highly anticipated record-breaking contract in 2023-24.
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Edited by:

Deepanshi Bajaj