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Brian Cashman prefers Yankees to stay under luxury tax threshold

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The Yankees have long been viewed as the “evil empire” because of the organization’s willingness to use its financial muscle to bring in baseball’s best players. That changed this past year, as the Yankees opened the 2018 season with a $161,305,917 payroll — only the 10th-largest Opening Day payroll in baseball. The Yankees had either the No. 1 or No. 2 40-man roster payroll at the end of each season dating back to 2000, according to Cot’s Contracts.

After signing CC Sabathia to a one-year deal on Tuesday, reportedly for $8 million, the Yankees’ payroll currently stands at about $157 million. The luxury tax threshold, otherwise known as the competitive balance tax threshold, is set for $206 million in 2019, leaving the Yankees roughly $49 million to play with before being penalized. A club penalized for exceeding the CBT pays a 20 percent tax for the amount of money over the threshold. If a team exceeds it two years in a row, the penalty is 30 percent. Three seasons in a row bumps the penalty to 50 percent. There are also surtaxes based on the amount of money by which a team exceeds the CBT.

Cashman’s preference is for the Yankees to remain under the luxury tax threshold, per Arash Madani, so as not “to line the pockets of opponents to use that [revenue] against us.” What happened to that “evil empire” we used to know and loathe?

When the details of the CBT were revealed in the new collective bargaining agreement in December 2016, Craig was among those to point out that it would be used as a “soft salary cap” and that’s exactly how it has been used. The Yankees were valued by Forbes in April this year at approximately $4 billion. This is not a team that should be concerned about the CBT, especially not to the point where they have dropped almost out of the top-third of the league in payroll, and certainly not to the point where the organization is willing to miss out on big-name free agents like Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. The division rival Red Sox just won a championship largely due to the front office’s willingness to spend — free agent signings like David Price and J.D. Martinez made a big impact. Cashman’s comment should be seen as anti-competitive.

There have been various issues over the last couple of years pointing to strife between ownership and the players’ union. The current CBA expires on December 1, 2021. The competitive balance tax could be one of the items the union works to get rid of or alter.

Hall of Fame should do away with cap logos on plaques

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As mentioned earlier, Brandy Halladay, wife of the late pitcher Roy Halladay, says he will not wear a cap with the logo of either of the two teams he played for during his 16-year career. Instead, he will wear a generic baseball cap. Brandy said, “He was a Major League Baseball player and that’s how we want him to be remembered.”

In the time since this news was reported, Blue Jays and Phillies fans have been arguing with each other and the takes are flying. Take, for example, this article by Bob Ford on Philly.com. It’s titled, “Roy Halladay would have wanted his Hall of Fame plaque to have a Phillies hat.” In August 2016, Halladay was asked which team’s cap he would prefer to wear if he got into Cooperstown. Halladay said, “I’d go as a Blue Jay.” He continued, “I wanted to retire here, too, just because I felt like this is the bulk of my career.”

Brandy hasn’t said why her family has decided to have her late husband wear neither team’s logo on the cap in his plaque, but the territoriality displayed by each city’s fans might be part of the reasoning. Ultimately, I believe she made the right call and it shows why the Hall of Fame should do away with logos on plaques entirely.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame was established in 1936, a time when players spent an overwhelming majority of their careers — if not their entire careers — with one team. Take, for example, the class of five inducted in the Hall’s inaugural year: Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson, and Walter Johnson. Cobb played for the Tigers for 22 of his 24 seasons. Wagner spent 18 of his 21 seasons with the Pirates. Mathewson pitched for the Giants in 16 and a half of his 17 seasons. Johnson spent all 21 years with the Senators. Ruth was famously sold by the Red Sox to the Yankees and he still spent 15 of his 22 seasons in New York. There were rarely debates about which cap a Hall of Famer should wear in his plaque.

It is increasingly rare for a player nowadays to stick with one team for most or all of his career due to the advent of free agency and the frequency of trades. Hall of Fame candidate Curt Schilling, for example, pitched for five teams and the team he spent the most time with — the Phillies — is arguably No. 3 on the list of cap priorities behind the Red Sox and Diamondbacks. Fellow Hall candidate Manny Ramírez spent equal time with the Indians and Red Sox and also had three really good seasons with the Dodgers. Whenever a player who spent significant time with multiple teams is inducted into the Hall of Fame, the “which cap will he wear?” conversation comes up and inevitably pits fans of one team against the others. That’s not what the Hall of Fame should be about; it should be about celebrating the storied careers and the types of men these players are or were, no matter which team or how many teams he pitched for.

When you get to the core of it, the logo on the cap is just an advertisement, anyway. The Phillies and Blue Jays are businesses. Our human nature as fans — our territoriality, our loyalty, our sense of belonging — causes us to want to claim the superiority of one business and its associated laundry over another. Most of the time, this doesn’t seem out of place, but Halladay is a unique case as he made significant contributions to two franchises and was voted in posthumously, so he can’t speak for himself (he did in 2016, as mentioned). Brandy shouldn’t have to worry about upsetting one fan base or another picking a logo for her late husband, and she shouldn’t have to be second-guessed by fans who feel spurned. The Hall of Fame should follow Brandy’s lead and, going forward, induct all of its players without cap logos on their plaques.