The New York Yankees have an incredibly important situation to address at some point over the next eight months with Robinson Cano set to become a free agent after this season. Cano is the best second baseman in baseball and arguably the best all-around player in the game today. He could sign a record-setting contract next fall or sooner.
Until recently, it would have been silly to think any team in Major League Baseball had a shot at prying Cano away from New York. The Yankees have the deepest pockets in the league, but last year Hal Steinbrenner expressed a serious desire to get the team’s payroll below the luxury tax threshold of $189 million.
“It was an absolute mandate,” a source reportedly told ESPNNewYork.com’s Wallace Matthews.
Yankees fans will be relieved to hear that it sounds like Hal’s frugal phase is behind him. Citing sources with intimate knowledge of the team, Matthews said the $189 million plan is a thing of the past. According to one source, Steinbrenner was “freaked out” by the realization that the public was beginning to feel that the Yankees were trending toward “cheapness.” The belief is that someone within the organization made The Boss Jr. realize that cutting expenses now would lead to millions less in revenue over time.
In other words: if the Yankees don’t build an annual contender and maintain their status as the most dominant team in MLB history, luxury taxes will matter very little.
Of course, saying it and doing it are two entirely different things. The new Yankee Stadium has gained a reputation for being a rather easy place to play, and a lot of that could have to do with high-priced tickets and a decrease in ticket sales. If Steinbrenner truly is committed to reestablishing the reputation that his father created by sparing no expense, the way he handles Cano will be a great starting point for proving it.
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