Yankees avoided massive unnecessary tax bill letting Hector Neris sign with Cubs

Was this how you wanted the Yankees to boast their "luxury" status?

Division Series - Houston Astros v Minnesota Twins - Game Four
Division Series - Houston Astros v Minnesota Twins - Game Four / Adam Bettcher/GettyImages
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There's no debate the New York Yankees need pitching help of all kinds. In fact, most teams do. You can never have enough.

But the Bombers are in a bit of a different position. They lost depth because of the Juan Soto trade -- a move they were all but officially obligated to make. They lost more in the Alex Verdugo trade. Some departed via free agency.

The Yankees don't necessarily have vacancies, though. They just have a lot of question marks with players returning from injuries and some unknown commodities ready to get full-time work. Former Houston Astros reliever Hector Neris definitely would've provided a bit more stability if the Yankees had pursued him more aggressively, but it's up for debate exactly how essential he would've been.

And those pondering will continue to do so, because Neris landed with the Chicago Cubs on a one-year, $9 million contract. Previous reports suggested he was looking for multiple years and anywhere between $20-$50 million, but it appears that might've been exaggerated.

There's also a chance teams refused to budge. Neris is entering his age-35 season and is coming of a career year, which looks more like an anomaly rather than the norm.

Yankees avoided massive unnecessary tax bill letting Hector Neris sign with Cubs

And he was a Houston Astro. A 2022 World Series champion with the archenemy. Do Yankees fans really want the second-tier of players from a hated rival? Is that how you want the Yankees to exercise their "luxury" spending power?

Because the front office eclipsed the $300 million mark, every dollar is taxed at a 110% rate -- the Yankees have exceeded the luxury tax for three straight years (50% penalty on the lingering extra spending) and are $60 million above the $237 million threshold for 2024 (60% penalty on every dollar spent after the $293 million threshold).

So, if the Yankees went ahead and signed Neris to a $9 million contract for one year, it would actually cost them $18.9 million. Any such purchases the Yankees are making at this point must be the fit of all fits or the most elite option out there (Blake Snell, for example). Currently, the Yankees are on track to pay over $48 million in tax penalties (the payroll sits at $304 million and any further spending will escalate the penalties).

Neris is hardly an ironclad investment. His 1.71 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in 71 games last season were incredible marks, but his career ERA (3.24) and WHIP (1.15) make him a regression-to-the-mean candidate and his strikeout numbers have steadily been on the decline.

But most importantly? The Yankees need a left-handed option. Overspending on a right-hander with question marks (walk issues, three straight seasons with a 3.63 ERA or higher prior to 2023) would've represented a redundant move, luxury tax penalties or not.