Michael Taylor is back with the Nationals, in a backup role

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Michael Taylor began the season as the Nationals’ starting center fielder, but once Denard Span returned from the disabled list they sent the 24-year-old prospect to Triple-A.

Taylor is back in the majors now but this time it’ll be in a part-time role, as the Nationals have recalled him from Triple-A to replace injured backup outfielder Reed Johnson on the roster.

Span, Bryce Harper, and Jayson Werth are all healthy, so it’ll be interesting to see what type of plan manager Matt Williams has for getting Taylor some playing time. It’s also possible that he’s only around for a short-term solution until the Nationals can find another veteran to take Johnson’s role.

Before being sent back to the minors Taylor hit .271 with two homers and an .814 OPS in 12 games for the Nationals and he went 10-for-26 (.385) with a homer in eight games at Triple-A.

Cubs, Red Sox, Yankees exceeded competitive balance tax threshold in 2019

Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald
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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. The Yankees, meanwhile, haven’t been linked to any of the top free agents. Accounting for projected arbitration salaries, their current 25-man roster is above $190 million already.

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.