The New York Yankees recently avoided arbitration with David Robertson, signing him to a one-year $3.1 million deal. The Yankees have now avoided arbitration with all five of their arbitration eligible players this off-season. However, while the Yankees avoidance of going to a hearing is a good thing, the overall plan for the Yankees about refusing to give contract extensions to their younger players that buy up the first couple of seasons of free agency is going to hurt the team.
Robinson Cano is due to hit free agency after this season. Cano is putting together what could be a Hall-of-Fame career. However, the Yankees refuse to offer him an extension, something they should have done at least three years ago. Now, the Yankees are going to have to pay Cano premium money if they desire to keep him.
Paying Cano is going to seriously put a crimp on how the Yankees operate next season. Yankees fans are already seeing the effects of the $189 million luxury tax threshold the Yankees have imposed upon themselves. The Yankees are already feeling the pinch as they owe over $85 million to just four players, Mark Teixeira, C.C. Sabathia, Alex Rodriguez, and Derek Jeter. Jeter’s money is an option and the Yankees will have $6.5 million invested in Ichiro Suzuki as well. That leaves just about $90 million to fill out the rest of the roster, which isn’t easy.
If the Yankees re-sign Cano they can add at least another $20 million to that payroll, which leaves about $70 million to fill out the roster.
Had the Yankees not been stubborn about not signing young players to deals before free agency like so many teams are now doing they would have had a little more maneuverability when it came to the 2014 payroll, as Cano would still be under contract for probably $12 million or so.
Now, the Yankees might be forced to let Phil Hughes walk away despite being a solid member of the starting rotation over the last couple of years. Ivan Nova will also be arbitration eligible and depending how well he does this season, he could be up for a decent pay raise, but could still be affordable. Michael Pineda is another starter who will be eligible for arbitration.
As you can see, it won’t be easy to field a very competitive team in 2014 unless the Yankees get lucky. The Yankees desire to avoid contract extensions for their talented young players is going to come back to haunt them and will continue to do so unless they change their philosophy.