Jeff Passan reports why the Yankees — whose decision to not sign any significant long-term deals this past offseason despite multiple on-field needs was chalked up to a desire to get under next-year’s $189 million luxury tax threshold — are likely to exceed said threshold nonetheless:
In recent months, the Yankees have become far less bullish on their publicly stated austerity plan, admitting to other executives and agents that staying beneath the $189 million threshold is unlikely and impractical.
“They’re going to be over 189,” one source familiar with the Yankees’ plans said. “They know it. Everyone knows it. You can’t run a $3 billion team with the intentions of saving a few million dollars.”
Passan explains why the particular rules of the luxury tax and the revenue sharing system make Plan-$189 million both impractical and, perhaps, less desirable to the Yankees than it once was.
Now, if only there were some good young blue chip free agents to go blow a chunk of change on.
Yankees’ special advisor and former outfielder Hideki Matsui expects to help the club “convince or recruit” Japanese two-way star Shohei Otani, according to a report from MLB.com’s Deesha Thosar. The Yankees are currently viewed as the favorites to sign Otani, though there still figures to be plenty of competition for his services when he finally becomes eligible to enter Major League Baseball.
Matsui also told Thosar that while he hasn’t seen a player find success as a hybrid pitcher/slugger in the majors, he’s taken notice of Otani’s success in both areas. “He’s done well in Japan, so as a baseball fan I’m looking forward to how he’s going to do here in the Majors and in the U.S.,” Matsui said, later adding, “If [pitching and hitting is] something he wants to do, and the team wants it, then why not?”
Neither the Yankees nor any other suitor should be too concerned with Otani’s ability to translate his .332 batting average and 3.20 ERA to MLB — at least, not just yet. There are still a few roadblocks in his path to the major leagues, most notably the lack of approval from the Players Association. Per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, the union doesn’t want to sign off on an agreement that would give the Nippon Ham Fighters a $20 million posting fee in exchange for Otani’s services. According to the posting system rules, Otani himself would be eligible to receive no more than a $4 million signing bonus.
The good news in all of this? The union agreed to reach a final decision by Monday, November 21, so there’s still a chance Major League Baseball will see the talented two-way player bring his unique skillset to the field in 2018.