Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Yankees luxury tax bill for this year is going to be $29 million. Which is more than the Astros’ entire payroll. Which is special.
You can read his whole store for the politics and mechanics of the luxury tax. But the takeaway here is that, for as much grief as the Yankees are taking for wanting to get their payroll under $189 million next year, thereby avoiding the luxury tax, the economic incentive for them to do so is really freakin’ compelling. They’re paying a 50% tax rate every year they go over the luxury tax threshold now. Just one year beneath it and it resets to 17.5%.
That might make next year pretty ugly. But it’ll make the years beyond that a bit easier for Brian Cashman.
The Red Sox have clinched the AL East for a third consecutive season, beating the Yankees 11-6 in the Bronx on Thursday night. It’s the third consecutive season in which the Red Sox have won the division, the first time that’s ever been done in club history. In fact, the only other times the Red Sox won the division in back-to-back years were 1903-04 and 1915-16.
AL MVP candidate Mookie Betts went 4-for-5 with a two-run single in the second inning off of Masahiro Tanaka and a three-run homer in the eighth against Aroldis Chapman to put the game out of reach. Jackie Bradley and Brock Holt also hit homers. Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez was on the hook for five runs in 3 2/3 innings, but three of them scored when Heath Hembree inherited a bases-loaded situation, then served up a grand slam to Giancarlo Stanton in the fourth. The rest of the bullpen combined to fire five scoreless innings. Steven Wright had three of them followed by zeroes from Ryan Brasier and Craig Kimbrel.
With the loss, the Yankees’ lead over the Athletics for the first Wild Card slot shrinks to 1.5 games. Meanwhile, the Red Sox will try to clinch home field advantage throughout the playoffs. With a 104-49 record, their closest competitor is the 95-57 Astros. With nine games remaining in the regular season for the Red Sox, they would have to lose every game remaining in the regular season and the Astros would have to win their 10 remaining games in order to fail to claim home field advantage.