TAMPA -- Seeking to diffuse any notion that the Yankees won't be able to retain their biggest stars and perhaps suffer a major talent deficit in 2014 when a payroll cut is planned, team president Randy Levine said, "The plan contemplates [Robinson] Cano, [Curtis] Granderson and a full championship team.''
The Yankees have said they plan to decrease their payroll from the low $200 millions to below $189 million to get below the luxury-tax threshhold for 2012, thus significantly reducing their tax rate in future years and saving themselces tens of millions. With that in mind, some folks are starting to do their own little math and wondering how many stars can be retained considering the Yankees will still have three $20-million-plus per-year players (Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia) on the payroll in 2014, leaving themselves about $120 million to fill out the other 22 spots on the team.
With the contracts of Cano and Granderson up after 2013, folks specifically have wondered how the Yankees will squeeze those two big stars onto their payroll. But Yankees people remain confident publicly they can do that and remain a contender.
"We'll have a great team either way,'' GM Brian Cashman said. "At $189 million, we should,''
The Yankees say they will not entertain the idea of going above the $189 million threshhold and are committed to getting below that figure. "The new Basic Agreement has changed the landscape,'' Cashman said. "From a business perspective, we have no choice. Do you want to go over $1 million at the expense of an additional $50 million? We're going to be at or below that ($189 million) number. We will certainly find a way to do it.''
Beyond Cano and Granderson, who have a chance to make it five $20-million-a-year players on their roster, there's a question as to whether they could even entertain the idea of playing for a marquee free agent this winter such as Matt Cain or Cole Hamels. Asked if their new plan of reduction makes that more difficult, Cashman responded, "We'll just have to see how it plays out.'' He isn't ruling out outside stars entirely. "It's possible, as long as it adds up,'' Cashman said. "Anything's possible.''
Meantime, Cashman isn't feeling sorry for himself. He mentioned how they have consistently been the top-spending team in recent years, so there's no room for complaint. Cashman said, We're appreciative of the fact we're able to spend that much.''