Yankees’ supposed payroll restrictions should infuriate fans even more


Unless the New York Yankees and Hal Steinbrenner shift course between now and the trade deadline, there’s no reason to think the playoffs are in focus.

The current roster isn’t getting the job done and will still have a difficult time doing so even when they get guys back from injury (remember, those players will need to get back on track and work things out among a lineup mostly filled with guys who are … trying to get back on track and working things out).

Maybe they get hot at the right time and go on insane run. That’d be delightful. But we’ll believe it when we see it, and we’ll be sure to support it. We’re just not banking on it.

But we didn’t have to be in this predicament. This offseason, the Yankees made a number of budget-conscious moves that didn’t exactly elevate the roster. Trading for Jameson Taillon was one. Bringing back Brett Gardner was another (though we know that’s a complicated situation). Trading for Rougned Odor and Wandy Peralta, giving Justin Wilson a wacky two-year deal … should we continue?

Instead of just doling out more money, Hal Steinbrenner was hell-bent on remaining under the $210 million luxury tax threshold, which led to general manager Brian Cashman’s tinkering which … didn’t really move the needle.

The team as a whole is struggling, but the addition of a capable lefty bat or a more stable back-end starter could be the difference of five wins right now.

Here’s why Yankees fans should be disgusted with the team’s payroll restrictions.

Why not spend? We can keep telling you the Yankees are worth $5 billion, but that’s not enough to move the conversation forward.

What if we looked at their year-to-year payroll vs revenue? Would that do the trick?

Jon Rimmer of SB Nation did a nice little deep dive to look at the difference ever since the new Yankee Stadium was erected and … it’s borderline criminal that the Yankees’ payroll has largely remained stagnant while their revenue has exponentially increased.

"“Since 2012, the Yankees’ payroll has become a smaller and smaller percentage of their gross revenue: From 2016 through 2019 (the last four full seasons), their average annual payroll was $189 million while the average annual team revenue was $624 million — a significantly bigger gap than in the years listed above. Although the luxury tax did evolve to be slightly more punitive, we see the Yankees started cutting costs over a decade ago, so the pattern was in place.”"

But they’ll still cry COVID. “We lost a lot of revenue due to the pandemic!” Did you? You didn’t have to pay the thousands of workers that keep the stadium operating. Players’ salaries were slashed over 60%. You don’t pay taxes on Yankee Stadium. So you just didn’t profit hundreds of millions? That’s what it sounds like. But if there’s an accountant out there who can tell us otherwise, that would be great. Because merchandise flew off the shelves during the pandemic. There was money to be made! It just wasn’t hand over fist in the form of ticket and concession sales for a year and change.

Now, the Yankees have barely any money to absorb before hitting the threshold (just a shade over $2 million) and they need to make serious upgrades before the trade deadline that will cost much, much more than that.

The Yankees had a $209 million payroll in 2005. That was 16 years ago. Seems like they haven’t adjusted for inflation there, but are totally content with raking in the multiplying profits and letting it ride at the expense of the fan base’s mental health. You’re sick of hearing, “What would George do?” right? So are we. But at this point it’s a legitimate question to ask.