WHEN the Yankees came to within a game of making their first World Series appearance since they went all the way in 2009, they did so with a $208.4-million payroll that required them to shell out a luxury tax for the 15th consecutive time. Considering their spendthrift ways and prevailing predilection to go for talent whenever available, the safe bet would have been to believe they were going over the salary cap anew this year.
As things turned out, the Yankees have wound up sticking to their preseason objective of staying under the levy threshold. Fresh off a campaign that had them improving ahead of schedule on the strength of their new Core Four, head honcho Hal Steinbrenner argued that fiscal prudence could, in fact, lead to sustained success. And while they’re down 10 games to the pacesetting Red Sox in the American League East, there’s every reason to contend that he’s right.
Significantly, this year hasn’t been the first the Yankees have tried to avoid paying any luxury tax. That said, the stars have aligned for them to actually achieve their goal for the first time since the system was introduced in 2003. Even as they don’t want to be hit with a whopping 50% bill as continuing offenders, they want to reset the clock so that the penalty reverts to 20% in the event they go over the threshold anew in the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, they’re good enough to crowd the Red Sox at the top even without incurring the same expenses as their longtime rivals.
Whether the Yankees’ tack pays off with a title next month remains to be seen. Considering that their previous caution-to-the-wind style hadn’t produced lasting results, however, the change cannot but be worth a shot. Besides, they are who they’re are: When the right opportunity presents itself, they will most certainly be around to take advantage.
Anthony L. Cuaycong has been writing Courtside since BusinessWorld introduced a Sports section in 1994.