While speculation swirls about how much Cliff Lee enjoyed his time in Texas and how much his wife disliked her time in New York, an overlooked factor in his free agent decision-making could be state income taxes.
Darren Rovell of CNBC wrote a very interesting article examining the differences in taxes Lee would pay depending on his new home. Texas does not have a state income tax, but it does have something called a “Jock Tax” that would involve Lee paying approximately $2.25 million if he signed a five-year, $120 million contract with the Rangers.
However, if Lee signed the same five-year, $120 million contract with the Yankees and moved to New York he’d pay between $11 million and $15 million in state income taxes depending on exactly where he lived.
In other words, assuming Lee can get in excess of $100 million from either team any offer the Rangers make will be worth about 10 percent more to him than any offer the Yankees make. Whether or not an “extra” $10 million would be enough to sway Lee one way or another is obviously unclear, but it does suggest that the Yankees will have to clearly top the Rangers’ offer to get him. Of course, we probably knew that already.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.
Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.
Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.
According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.
Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.