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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Why Teixeira Might Still Be An Angel In 2009 Despite The Yanks' Blockbuster Budget

One of the things that's been rather scary to contemplate about the 2009 scene in the American League is just how much money the Yanks will have to spend in the offseason. Among other things, the contracts of Jason Giambi ($22M), Bobby Abreu ($16M), Andy Pettitte ($16M), Richie Sexson ($8M, though most or all of that was paid for by the M's), Pudge Rodriguez ($13M, most paid by the Tigers), Mike Mussina ($11M), Carl Pavano ($11M), Xavier Nady ($3.35M), and Damaso Marte ($2M). So that's $102M, rounding down, or just $100M if you want to make it really even in Yankee increments.

The conventional wisdom is that the Yanks are going on a huge spending spree in the 2008/2009 offseason, and that this is going to absorb every name free agent out there, with Mark Teixeira and C.C. Sabathia the first names on the Steinbrenner/Cashman shopping list. But I'm not so sure that's how it will go down. Consider Tim Marchman's New York Sun column today about what the 2009 Yanks might actually look like. Marchman reckons the Yanks' wallets will be lighter by about $75M, but what's 25 mil among friends?

As much money as that is, it has to replace a lot — no. 3 and no. 5 hitters, no. 2 and no. 3 starters, and a guy who once spent several months on the disabled list with a strained butt. Say the Yankees signed Sabathia for $25 million and Teixeira for $20 million. Say they also picked up Damaso Marte's $6 million option and signed Chicago reliever Bob Howry or some equivalent pitcher for $6 million to help stabilize the young bullpen, and finagled Mussina into coming back for $11 million. That would leave the team short an outfielder, with no regular designated hitter, and just $8 million left to spend on the bench — none of which takes into account the chance that Jorge Posada may not be able to catch next year.

You can play these scenarios out any way you like, but any way you do it, you bump up against limits quickly. Signing Sabathia, Mussina, Abreu, Marte, Howry, and Frank Thomas, for instance, would fill all the holes, at least if you moved an outfielder to first base. It would also come to something like $72 million, leave nearly nothing for the bench or contingencies, and leave the team worse off than they are this year, given the effects of aging. There's little reason to think the Yankees won't be able to sign a star this winter — at least assuming the bankrupt finances of the state and city don't lead to the kind of tax raises that would chase athletes off to tax havens such as Florida — but the bulk of their money and effort is going to have to go to just holding the line.

In other words, let's say you're Arte Moreno and Tony Reagins, and you're spinning a tale of exactly why Boras client Teixeira should play his home games under the light of the halo in front of a Monkey, and not in the new Bronx digs of the Yankees. Basically, it goes like this: sure, they'll give you a lot of money. Do you want to win or not?

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Also, the Yanks look like they'll be missing out on postseason revenue. $30-$50 mil, which has probably propped up their payroll for something like a decade, just might disappear this year... At least, one can hope.
Ah, but they get the boost of no longer having to pay the luxury tax. They've paid over $20 million in luxury tax each of the last couple of seasons, but they don't have to pay it anymore once they move into the new ballpark. So, there's an extra $20+ million they can spend on payroll right there.

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