Yankees: 3 contracts on payroll holding the team back right now

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The Yankees face some payroll issues heading into 2021, and these men are the reasons why.

Most people don’t realize that the New York Yankees have about $175 million committed to their 2021 payroll and have plenty of moves to make if they want to get back to the World Series. When you factor in the losses from the global pandemic and the organization’s desire to likely avoid the luxury tax threshold, it’s really going to be hard to make big additions.

That gives the Yankees $34 million to spend before the tax hits at $210 million. You want to keep DJ LeMahieu? That’ll probably eat into more than half of that available money. You want Masahiro Tanaka back? That’s probably at least another $12 million. Now what? It’s peanuts after that.

But the biggest reason for these financial troubles are the contracts the Yankees have tied themselves into over the last few seasons. Gerrit Cole’s $324 million deal is not one of them — the Yankees needed to pay him whatever he wanted. This is a reality for some acquisitions.

For others, however? Not so much. And these three deals currently on the payroll will hold the Yankees back from making a number of moves this offseason unless general manager Brian Cashman figures out a way to trade one or two of them.

Yankees RHP Adam Ottavino (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

3. Adam Ottavino’s 3-year, $27 million deal

Once upon a time, Ottavino’s contract with the Yankees was a steal.

Adam Ottavino‘s 2019 regular season with the Bombers had everyone thinking this was some of Cashman’s best work. The right-hander’s slider was untouchable and he had a career year, logging a 1.90 ERA, 1.31 WHIP and 88 strikeouts in 73 games (66.1 innings). He was the bridge this team needed to get to Zack Britton and Aroldis Chapman, making the bullpen nearly unstoppable.

But then came the postseason. Otto was tattooed in the 2019 ALCS against the Houston Astros, allowing three earned runs on six hits and a walk in just 2.1 innings of work across five games. And that seemed to unravel the veteran.

On Aug. 20, Ottavino got wrecked by the Tampa Bay Rays, allowing three earned runs in just 0.2 innings pitched after coming in to relieve James Paxton. Two games later, he blew a save against the Mets. Three games later, he failed to record an out in an appearance against the Blue Jays, in which he surrendered SIX earned runs on four hits and two walks.

Manager Aaron Boone never trusted him again. Though Otto logged five straight promising appearances, he faltered in his final two of the year and was used for just 0.2 innings throughout the entire ALDS.

Now, he can’t be used AT ALL in the postseason or in high-leverage situations in the regular season. And he’s making $9 million for the 2021 season. What’s the use?