Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that the Yankees are contemplating Mark Reynolds, Michael Young and Brian Roberts as they seek to add to their infield.
Reynolds would be a re-signing after finishing last season with the Bombers. He hit .236/.300/.455 with six homers in 36 games with the Yankees and .220/.306/.393 with 21 homers in 445 at-bats overall. Young came in at .279/.335/.395 in 519 at-bats with the Phillies and Dodgers, while Roberts hit .249/.312/.392 in 265 at-bats for the Orioles.
As things stand now, the Yankees are looking at Kelly Johnson at second base, Eduardo Nunez at third base and Derek Jeter at shortstop, with Brendan Ryan in a reserve role, assuming that Alex Rodriguez’s suspension is upheld. Ideally, they could find someone capable of challenging both Johnson and Nunez for at-bats, but there really isn’t anyone like that left in free agency, unless they want to go the Yuniesky Betancourt route. Of what’s left, Eric Chavez would probably be their best option. However, he’s a big injury risk. Reynolds and Young would both be more attractive if they weren’t such poor defenders. As is, the return of Reynolds seems the most likely scenario.
Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Cubs, Red Sox, and Yankees exceeded the competitive balance tax (more colloquially known as the luxury tax) threshold for the 2019 season, set at $206 million. It will rise to $208 million for the 2020 season and $210 million in 2021.
Teams that exceed the CBT threshold pay a penalty on the overage, which is compounded depending on how consistently they have exceeded the threshold. The base penalty is 20 percent. If a team has exceeded it in a second consecutive year, the penalty rises to 30 percent. Three or more consecutive seasons yields a 50 percent tax on the overage. Furthermore, teams that exceed the CBT threshold by $20-40 million see an additional 12 percent tax. Above $40 million brings a 42.5 percent penalty which rises to 45 percent if the team exceeds the CBT by more than $40 million in a consecutive year.
The luxury tax has acted as a de facto salary cap. Front offices typically have gone out of their way not to exceed it, especially in recent years. The Cubs, Red Sox, and Yankees are each widely believed to be looking to stay below $208 million in 2020.
In pursuit of payroll efficiency, the Cubs are believed to be willing to listen to offers for catcher Willson Contreras, third baseman Kris Bryant, outfielders Kyle Scharber, Albert Almora, and Ian Happ, as well as pitcher José Quintana. The Red Sox are believed to be pursuing trades of outfielder Mookie Betts and/or J.D. Martinez. Outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is also believed to be available.
As we have been discussing the ongoing labor tension in baseball lately, one wonders if the CBT threshold might also be changed within the next collective bargaining agreement. It has served ownership well, giving them something to point at as a reason not to invest as much into putting together a competitive and entertaining product for fans.