Wanna buy Bernie Williams’ house?


It’s a good house. Not great, even if people want to say it’s better than it is, and it’s probably thought of as nicer than it is simply because it’s in New York. But it is really good. And classy. Apropos of its owner:

Bernie Williams took to the batter’s box during the New York Yankees’ Old Timers’ Day over the weekend, but off the field the retired outfielder is looking to pitch. Williams, a five-time All-Star and four-time World Series champion with the Bronx Bombers, has put his North Castle mansion on the market for a cool $3.5 million.

I’ve noticed a pattern with these ballplayer houses: most rooms look like they’ve never been lived in and then you come across a couple where you know they were all the time. The couple of rooms where the owner told the real estate agent’s stagers “Nope, not taking my stuff out of here. This is my room.”

For Williams it’s clearly the recording studio and the room with the blue leather furniture. Everything else he probably just walks through quickly to get to the recording studio and the room with the blue leather furniture.

New tax law could affect MLB trades

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Jim Tankersley of the New York Times notes that a tax law passed by Republicans could affect trades in Major League Baseball. The law added the word “real” to a certain line of tax code that now only allows real estate trades to qualify for tax immunity. Previously, certain assets like trucks and machinery could have been traded tax-free.

A perhaps unintended consequence of that change could mean baseball teams could have to pay capital gains taxes when they trade away and acquire players. MLB’s chief legal officer Dan Halem said, “There is no fair market value of a baseball player. There isn’t. I don’t really know what our clubs are going to do to address the issue. We haven’t fully figured it out yet. This is a change we hope was inadvertent, and we’re going to lobby hard to get it corrected.”

Tankersley wonders how players would be valued for the purposes of this tax law:

Mr. Verlander, for example, was clearly a more immediately valuable asset to the Astros than the three prospects they traded to get him. He gave up only four runs in his five regular-season starts for the team, then won four straight starts to begin the playoffs. In very simple terms, he brought value to the Astros in a trade, and had the new law been in place last year, the team would have owed taxes on that added value.

But what, exactly, was that value? Was it the size of his contract? Mr. Verlander earned $28 million last year, while the players traded for him drew minor-league salaries. Was it the additional wins he brought to the team? Statisticians estimate Mr. Verlander gave the Astros nearly two more wins last season, a value that, depending on the statistician, could reach $20 million. Or was it some calculation of the total future value Mr. Verlander will bring to the team, minus the total future value it gave up in the prospects it traded away — and possibly adjusted for the amount the team will have to pay Mr. Verlander?

Complicating matters further is that teams value players differently, and one player might help a certain team far more than another team. A struggling club with a surplus of starting pitchers might trade one to a playoff contender in desperate need of one, in exchange for position players who could improve a struggling lineup. In that case, both teams could, reasonably, be considered to have gained value in the trade, and thus would owe taxes on it.

Republicans said they weren’t trying to hamstring sports teams, but that’s exactly what they might have done here. It seems likely that the law will eventually be amended to exempt sports teams, given that leagues like the MLB and NBA are enormous and worth so much money. Whether that will be done in a reasonable amount of time is another question entirely.