Max Scherzer puts Yankees on blast for manipulating competitive balance tax
Max Scherzer loves the New York Yankees, doesn’t he? First, he reportedly wouldn’t approve a trade to the Bronx at last year’s deadline, which may or may not have stemmed from the Yankees failing to pursue him in free agency before the 2015 season or his unwillingness to sign with them. It’s still unclear … but he apparently wanted no part of the Yanks in 2021.
Then, this offseason, he proved that playing in New York really wasn’t a big deal to him as long as he was offered the right amount of money when he signed a three-year, $130 million contract with the Mets, which also metaphorically flipped the bird at the Dodgers and Nationals.
Now, here we are, still stuck in the MLB lockout, with Scherzer as one of the main MLBPA representatives fighting against the owners, specifically on the core economic issues affecting the game.
The two sides failed to come to an agreement before commissioner Rob Manfred’s fake, self-imposed deadline (after he locked out the players and failed to negotiate at all for 43 days) and now the first two series of the season have been canceled.
Unsurprisingly, the owners refused to move an inch on the competitive tax balance front, offering to increase the threshold by $10 million next season (by no means a lot) but would only have it increase marginally after 2024.
While this topic has dominated headlines, Scherzer used the platform to call out the Yankees for their manipulation of the CBT since they’re all but official offenders of using the threshold as a “soft salary cap.” And he’s not wrong.
Max Scherzer called out Hal Steinbrenner and the Yankees for their spending.
The Yankees, the most valuable MLB team worth ~$5 billion, have now made it a point to get under the CBT threshold three times since 2017. While they still remain among the highest payrolls, many (even Yankees fans!) would argue they aren’t spending commensurate with their profits and market size. Why are the behemoth Bronx Bombers afraid to pay a few million in taxes for exceeding the CBT, especially if it means they can get that much better?
Perhaps the ONLY reason they don’t is because that money gets cycled through to the smaller market teams … who simply do not use that cash to spend more to improve their rosters, further proving the system is broken. Have you seen the Rays, Pirates, Orioles, Marlins and Athletics spending much of anything over the last ~5 years? The answer is no, you haven’t, unless you’re in another universe.
Still, that’s not a reason for the Yankees, who should be blowing every other market out of the water when it comes to payroll numbers, to avoid getting taxed. For the 1,000th time, their payroll has hardly budged since 2005 (it’s remained in the $207-$225 million range) while their revenue has soared.
Yankees fans are the first ones to call out their own team for such frugal practices … and while we commend Scherzer for getting the topic on a grander stage, the last thing anyone needs is Mets fans now thinking they’re top dogs because Steve Cohen splurged for one offseason on a guy willing to call out the big shots across town.
It also probably would’ve been nice if Scherzer had mentioned the Nationals owners — the Lerners — who are among the richest in baseball yet exceeded the $185 million payroll mark just once since the franchise’s inception in 2000, given he played for them for seven seasons.