The Yankees payroll budget is kind of like Phil Hughes’ innings limit: We all know roughly the number, but only a few key people seem to know the exact total, and even that exact total seems subject to a slight change if absolutely necessary.
Yesterday, Hal Steinbrenner said next year’s payroll will stay “within the same level” as this season. It gives a rough idea of what Brian Cashman will be working with, but it certainly doesn’t give anything concrete. It only opens the door to vague calculation and guesswork. These are the days when you really appreciate Cot’s Baseball Contracts.
Staying the same
CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Jorge Posada and Damaso Marte are the multi-million-dollar Yankees whose contracts are staying the same next season. Alex Rodriguez is due for a small pay cut and Robinson Cano is due a small raise. Those cancel one another out.
Guys like Brett Gardner and Dave Robertson — who aren’t quite eligible for arbitration — will get small raises, but nothing especially significant.
Off the books
From the non-Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte division. Javier Vazquez and Nick Johnson are the biggest contracts coming off the books for the Yankees, totaling a little more than $17 million. From the Opening Day roster, the Yankees are also losing Randy Winn, Chan Ho Park and Marcus Thames, with contracts totaling a little more than $3 million.
We also know the Yankees initially budgeted room to pay Chad Guadin roughly $3 million (his contract before the spring training DFA). There are also some smaller contracts that could come off — Juan Miranda, Chad Moeller, etc. — but like the pre-arbitration players, the numbers are too small to play a significant factor into such vague calculations.
Due for a raise
Three significant players are due fairly significant raises: Mark Teixeira, Nick Swisher and Curtis Granderson have raises built into their current contracts. Those raises amount to about $7.5 million.
The Yankees also have their arbitration-eligible players. Joba Chamberlain, Boone Logan and Sergio Mitre are definitely eligible. I’m pretty sure Phil Hughes is too, and probably Dustin Moseley. Mitre and Moseley could be non-tender candidates, but with Gaudin already gone and Alfredo Aceves a complete unknown, it probably makes sense to bring back at least one of them. Moseley would be the cheapest, and probably the most versatile.
Hard to know what exactly the Yankees payroll situation looks like without knowing the contracts for Jeter, Rivera and Pettitte. It’s hard to count them as legitimately coming off the books, but it’s impossible to know how significantly those contracts will change.
Because we don’t know the exact number the Yankees have in mind, I’m not sure exact salary figures are the best way to look at the Yankees budget. Instead, consider what’s coming and going, then figure out what’s left.
I’ve already mentioned that the slight changes for Rodriguez and Cano offset one another. The lost Opening Day contracts of Winn, Park and Johnson also more or less offset the raises for Teixeira, Swisher, Granderson (within a half million or so). If the Yankees are lucky, the contracts for Thames and Gaudin — plus whatever money was set aside for those mid-season additions — will come close to paying for the arbitration raises.
Unless I’m missing something, the Yankees will have Javier Vazquez’s salary to play with — $11.5 million — but the rest will depend on contracts for Jeter, Rivera and Pettitte. There are obviously fluctuations that could occur — numbers could change, trades could happen — but there isn’t a lot of extra space. This is certainly not 2008 all over again.
As it stands, it’s going to be a squeeze going after Cliff Lee, and adding an additional player like Carl Crawford or Jayson Werth on the open market is difficult to imagine.