Yankees still moving toward path to win without luxury tax
DALLAS (AP) Hal Steinbrenner keeps saying that a $200 million payroll shouldn't be necessary to win a World Series title. And the New York Yankees owner, whose team exceeded that number again this season, keeps getting proven right.
The Kansas City Royals, with a payroll of about $128 million, won their second straight AL pennant and first World Series since 1985.
Steinbrenner said Wednesday that the Yankees are finally starting to get the influx of homegrown young talent into the big leagues that will eventually help them get their payroll below the luxury tax threshold and still win games. But it takes patience to watch and let those youngsters develop.
"It's not easy to do, especially in this town," Steinbrenner said during a break at the Major League Baseball owners' meeting.
Among the issues being discussed this week by owners is fan safety. MLB is considering whether to expand the use of protective netting, which already is in place behind home plate.
Commissioner Rob Manfred, whose five-year term as Bud Selig's replacement was unanimously approved at the owners' meeting last November, was scheduled to provide an update to owners Thursday.
The Yankees got back into the postseason after a two-year absence, with a roster that included rookies Luis Severino (5-3, 2.89 ERA in 11 starts) and infielder Greg Bird (.261, 11 homers, 31 RBIs in 157 at-bats).
"I've been talking about these kids for three years now, but when they're at Single A, it's a different story. There's a lot of hurdles still to jump over for these kids," Steinbrenner said. "But they've progressed every bit as good, most of them, as we could have expected. They've moved up through the system fairly quickly and now a couple of them have come up when quite frankly we would have preferred to give them a little more time, and they did great."
There are others, like 24-year-old second baseman Rob Refsnyder and 22-year-old catcher Gary Sanchez, who got their first big league at-bats this year. Outfielder Aaron Judge, the Yankees' 2013 first-round pick, could make his debut next season.
New York's luxury tax payroll was about $241 million this year, putting the Yankees on track for a tax of approximately $26 million.
Looking ahead, outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury has five seasons left on his $153 million, seven-year contract, while catcher Brian McCann has three years to go on an $85 million, five-year deal. Mark Teixeira is owed $22.5 million for the last year of his contract, and 40-year-old Alex Rodriguez has $40 million remaining over two years.
"The last couple of years, the money that has come off, we've had to kind of put it back in to fill voids, because we haven't had the young players to do it with," Steinbrenner said.
Steinbrenner knows New York has to have marquee players but said it is essential to have a mix of veterans and youngsters. That will provide more payroll flexibility.
"I feel better than I did two or three years ago," Steinbrenner said. "It's frustrating to have all the injuries we had two years in a row and not have anybody that's capable of coming up and really fill in the void. ... It's a much better situation (now). We've seen the two can do it now, and we have a good two or three more coming this year."