The mega-class of free agents currently scheduled to hit the streets at the completion of the 2018 season is setting up to be one of the greatest collections of free agents all-time despite Carlie Blackmon signing an extension. Of course, all of these players will need to make it through arbitration, opt out of current contracts, or avoid signing long-term extensions with their current teams in order to make it a reality. Make no mistake about it, the 2018-19 Yankees Free Agency plan has been building for a few years now in preparation for this very class.
The shortlist of bigtime players includes Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Josh Donaldson, Clayton Kershaw, Dallas Keuchel, and David Price all age 33 or younger. The Yankees will have carved off almost every “wasted” long-term contract by the end of this season and the big city boys could be looking to spend if prospects are not developing as hoped. So who are the clubhouse interest leaders heading into 2018-19 Yankees Free Agency planning? Bryce Harper and Manny Machado are the clear number one and number two in 2018-19 Yankees Free Agency planning but you should not overlook pitchers like Kershaw or Patrick Corbin.
Here at NY Yankees Digest we are going to produce numerous volumes throughout the season that break many different scenarios that could be employed by the Bombers this offseason and in some cases, during the season. Some will seem boring and straightforward and others will seem like insanity but all will be in the realm of the possible even if the probability is low. The main point is to break down how each situation “could” unfold. Some might not be popular with Yankees fans or fans of other teams involved. It is all but guaranteed that the “homer” in many will come out in the comment thread. All of that is fine and passion is key to sports but if you step back and think, these scenarios will not be impossible.
The series starts off with a bang. Volume one is called the Nuclear Option. Why? Because it blows up free agency. There are some moving parts to this so follow along and brace for the insanity that is in the realm of the possible. There is a fork in this road with two completely different plans.
***Disclaimer: These are not scenarios I would like to see play out but they are possible and warrants real discussion.***
2018-19 Yankees Free Agency – The Nuclear Options Team Payroll Foundation
Below is a table the shows the Yankees team payroll from 2009 until 2018. Those years have been chosen because that timeframe is from when Hal Steinbrenner officially took over the Yankees. He has gone on record numerous times in relation to huge spending and the fact that it is not required to build a winner. All that being equal, he does seem comfortable around $200 Million. If the Yankees spend $15 million on mid-season moves that would put their team payroll at $183 million (which included roughly $30 million in arbitration eligible players).
|Year||25-man Opening Day|
Now there is something very important to look at here. What Steinbrenner is trying to say not that he wants to stay under $200 Million but rather that he wants to stay under the Luxury Tax (technically the Competitive Balance Tax) threshold to avoid extra economic penalties and draft pick penalties. According to the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), here are the Luxury Tax rates through the lifecycle of the CBA.
2017: $195 million
2018: $197 million
2019: $206 million
2020: $208 million
2021: $210 million
That is interesting to consider that there is a $9 million jump heading into next season and then minor increases over the following two years. One can only assume that this number will climb during the next CBA or at a minimum stay the same. With that logic and the assumption that the next CBA will last five years, we can assume the Luxury Tax threshold should be at a base of $210 million.
2018-19 Yankees Free Agency – Current Team Contract Status
Now let’s take a look at the “dead money” or expiring contracts that can come off the books at the end of this season. For a full list of contracts you can look at the Yankees Current Contracts but for this piece we are going to focus on the “dead money.”
Brett Gardner – $12.5M
David Robertson -$13M
CC Sabathia – $10M
Neil Walker – $4M
Adam Warren – $3.31M
Brian McCann – $5M
Chase Headley – $500,000
Total – $48.31M
Added – Alex Rodriguez – $4M deferred payment
Actual Total – $44.31M