Yankees shell out for Stroman, pushing payroll past limits

Pitcher Marcus Stroman is reportedly interested to join the Yankees in 2024.

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Joel Sherman from New York Post reports that the Yankees, after a failed attempt to sign Yoshinobu Yamamoto for $300 million, shifted their focus to Marcus Stroman. The total cost, including the posting fee and luxury tax implications, would have amounted to approximately $370 million. However, Yamamoto chose the West Coast and the Dodgers, signing a record-breaking 12-year, $325 million deal, surpassing Gerrit Cole’s $324 million contract with the Yankees.

Making moves or misfires?

In the same offseason, the Yankees had the largest free-agent contract with Aaron Judge‘s $360 million deal, but the Dodgers outdid them again with Shohei Ohtani’s 10-year, $700 million pact. Carlos Rodon, signed by the Yankees last offseason for $162 million, ranked 11th among pitcher contracts at that time.

While some may argue that these signings are extravagant, the Yankees’ payroll has now exceeded $300 million due to the Stroman signing. Despite owner Hal Steinbrenner’s past statements about not needing a $200 million payroll, the team has surpassed even the $300 million mark, indicating potential further spending.

General manager Brian Cashman may continue to explore the market for pitchers like Dylan Cease (via trade) and Blake Snell (free agent) to bolster the team’s roster. The Yankees might also target at least one reliever in their pursuit of a competitive edge.

Despite criticism of the Yankees dancing with the luxury tax, the organization’s overall investment, not just in payroll but also in player treatment and resources, has been commendable. Players, like Jameson Taillon, appreciate the organization’s commitment to providing top-notch amenities for them and their families.

The Yankees face competition from the Mets, led by owner Steve Cohen, in creating an attractive environment for players. Both New York clubs recognize the challenges of recruiting free agents, considering factors like high taxes, traffic perceptions, and media scrutiny. Cohen, similar to the Dodgers, has made substantial financial commitments to enhance the Mets’ competitiveness.

Cohen’s strategy involves significant spending to build an infrastructure comparable to the Dodgers, focusing on developing players within the system or acquiring prospects through trades. Despite skepticism about the moves, Cohen’s willingness to take on considerable dead money with players like Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander demonstrates a commitment to winning.

The Mets’ 2023 payroll, including luxury tax and dead money, reached $475.5 million, and it is expected to remain high in the current season. Despite concerns, if the Mets contend in July, Cohen might expand the payroll further to reinforce the team.

While critics may question the moves made by the Mets and Yankees, both clubs are led by savvy individuals who leverage available resources to improve their teams. The focus should not solely be on payroll concerns but rather on the quality of decisions made by team management. The Yankees, despite occasional missteps, have demonstrated that their challenges lie more in decision-making than financial constraints. Ultimately, the success of New York clubs hinges on making informed choices rather than simply increasing spending.

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