Yankees to avoid luxury tax penalty for first time in 15 years

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 3: Hal Steinbrenner, Managing General Partner of the New York Yankees is seen during a press conference to announce the New Era Pinstripe Bowl's eight-year partnership with the Big Ten Conference at Yankees Stadium on June 3, 2013 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Jason Szenes/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 3: Hal Steinbrenner, Managing General Partner of the New York Yankees is seen during a press conference to announce the New Era Pinstripe Bowl's eight-year partnership with the Big Ten Conference at Yankees Stadium on June 3, 2013 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Jason Szenes/Getty Images) /
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Though there’s still time to decide if the Yankees 2018 season will end up a success, Hal Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman can put one win in the books, as the club is set to avoid incurring the $197 million luxury tax threshold.

For the first time since the luxury tax penalty first took effect in 2003, the Yankees will fall below its threshold. That’s 14 straight seasons that the Yanks have surpassed the allowable sum by a total $319.6 million. The next closest club to penalties incurred would be the Dodgers from 2013-17, for a total of $149.7 million.

When the 2018 season began, the Yankees held a collective $178.8 million on the books. Fast-forward six months, and because of upgrades, payroll jumped to $192.1 million.

Even if you count in C.C. Sabathia’s $500K for pitching 155 innings (he currently has 139.2), Neil Walker’s $150K bonus for reaching 425 plate appearances (he has 365) and $3,000 per day for for each September call-up to a max of 40 players, the Bombers will still fall below the almighty penalty.

Though the 2017 Yanks fell one-game shy of reaching the World Series, it has seemed at times, that not incurring the luxury tax was just as important, if not more so than at the very least making a return to the ALCS.

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While this is super frustrating to fans, especially those that want the club to spend like George M. Steinbrenner is still running the show, this is the economic state of the game in which we live in.

The supposed plan all along was to avoid the tax threshold this year, dropping the penalty from 50 percent down to 20 over next season’s limit of $206 million. This would allow big market clubs like the Yankees and Dodgers ($194.5 million) to spend lavishly this winter on top free agents Bryce Harper, Manny Machado and Clayton Kershaw (should he opt-out of his current deal).

Whether or not you believe the Bombers are still in need of adding another $300 million-plus player (Giancarlo Stanton is the other), the ability to do so is now available. Even after the emergence of rookies Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar, I’ve often said the outcome of this season will drive the upcoming free agent spending spree.

And although pitching should be the Yanks’ No. 1 priority, outside of Patrick Corbin, re-signing J.A. Happ and maybe Dallas Keuchel, the rest of the available crop does little to inspire confidence.

Next. Miguel Andujar enters Yankee record books. dark

The two teams that couldn’t wrangle in their spending are the Red Sox ($238.4 million) and the Nationals ($203.9). For the former, it has worked, since they have the best record in all of baseball at 101-46. Though regular season success doesn’t always translate to Postseason glory, you have to be in it to win it — which at 74-73, the Nats will likely not.