Hal Steinbrenner wants the Yankees’ payroll down to $189 million by 2014

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Hal Steinbrenner said today that the Yankees plan to decrease their payroll to below the $189 million luxury tax figure by 2014, which is when the new collective bargaining agreement threshold kicks in.

Steinbrenner called it “streamlining” the payroll, which is currently at around $210 million.

Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York notes that Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, CC Sabathia, and Mark Teixeira are already under contract for $75 million in 2014, which would leave about $110 million for Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, and 19 other players.

Obviously a $189 million payroll is still massive, even looking ahead to 2014, but the Yankees’ payroll hasn’t been below $200 million since 2007, when it was $190 million. Since then their annual payrolls have been $209 million, $201 million, $206 million, $203 million, and now $210 million.

Toss in the usual inflation of player salaries and $189 million in 2014 would represent a pretty significant change.

Tony Clark: among players, the universal DH “is gaining momentum”

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Major League Baseball Players Association executive director Tony Clark met the press late this morning and covered a wide array of topics.

One of them: free agency, which he referred to as being “under attack” based on the slow market for free agents last offseason.

“What the players saw last offseason was that their free-agent rights were under attack on what has been the bedrock of our system,” Clark said. He added that they “have some very difficult decisions to make.” Presumably in the form of grievances and, down the road, a negotiating strategy that seeks to claw back some of the many concessions the union has given owners in the past few Collective Bargaining Agreements. CBAs, it’s worth noting, that Clark negotiated. We’ve covered that territory in detail in the past.

Of more immediate interest was Clark’s comment that the idea of a universal designated hitter is, among players, “gaining momentum.” Clark says “players are talking about it more than they have in the past.” We’ve talked a lot about that as well.

Given that hating or loving the DH is the closest thing baseball has to a religion, no one’s mind is going to be changed by any of this, but I think, practically speaking, it’s inevitable that the National League will have the DH and I think it happens relatively soon. Perhaps in the next five years. The opposition to it at this point is solely subjective and based on tradition. People like pitchers batting and they like double switches and they like the leagues being different because they, well, like it. If the system were being set up today, however, they’d never have it this way and I think even the DH-haters know that well. That doesn’t mean that you can’t dislike a universal DH, but it does mean that you can’t expect the people who run the game to cater to that preference when it makes little sense for them to do it for their own purposes.

Anyway: enjoy convincing each other in the comments about how the side of that argument you dislike is wrong.