CHICAGO, August 9, 2013 — MLB has recently made tremendous gains towards cleaning up their product on the field, regardless of your views on how the information was obtained, with the Biogenesis suspensions. Thirteen players have accepted their suspensions while a 14th, Alex Rodriguez, is beginning his appeal process.
There is one aspect of the process that MLB must remedy and the quicker they can do so, the better. If the suspension of Rodriguez is upheld or even if he is merely, by the standard of 212 games, suspended for next year the Yankees will simply keep his salary and the salary will not count towards their salary for the purpose of luxury tax threshold. The Yankees have been above the luxury tax threshold every year since it was put into place. This means that if they were to have a payroll over $189 million next year then every dollar above that would be taxed cost them an extra 50%.
It can be argued whether or not this tax should impact the Yankees strategy, but they have let it be known that it is part of their plan to be below that number for 2014, which will reset their tax and allow them to be taxed at 17.5% for 2015 as opposed to being taxed at 50% again. This strategy has caused many to view the Yankees as not being players for significant free agents for this offseason and potentially some future season.
However, if they are allowed to keep the $26 million owed to Rodriguez next year then they only have $58.025 million committed to next year before arbitration, options, and their own free agents, including Robinson Cano, are factored in.
Buck Showalter has already voiced concern over the situation, although he did not mean to do so on the record, saying that if the Yankees get under the 2014 luxury tax threshold with the Rodriguez situation, then Orioles catcher Matt Wieters was going to be a Yankee when he becomes a free agent after 2015. This is likely not only a fear of the Orioles, but many other small to mid-market teams.
The Dodgers already seem to not care about money, based on them doubling their payroll in only one year. If the Yankees resume their free spending ways, what chance do the small to mid market teams have to keep their players?
Rodriguez’ performance on the field has declined the past few years and his contract has appeared to become somewhat of an albatross for the Yankees. The ability to shed this contract for the one year, $26 million, or for the remainder of the contract, more than $90 million, would seem to be substantial motivation to call into question of whether or not a team can be trusted to protect the best interest of a player who is not performing up to the value of his contract.
There was such debate during Alex Rodriguez’ rehab assignment. Rodriguez certainly did not help his cause with his actions, but there was also speculation whether or not the Yankees were trying to prevent him getting back to the big leagues, either to avoid the media circus surrounding him or to potentially look into legally getting out from under his contract.
Now, Jack Clark is saying on his radio show that he knows Albert Pujols was using steroids as far back as 2000. The point of this article is not to examine whether or not the Angels would now be motivated to look into the validity of these claims. Pujols’ decline has been discussed here, and the Angels still owe him $192 million.
If the Yankees are able to escape not only next year’s salary obligation to Rodriguez, but ultimately find a way to shed the remainder of Rodriguez’ contract, then what would prevent teams such as the Angels from assisting MLB in their investigation of Pujols?
It is important that MLB address this situation, and whether the solution is counting the money against the luxury tax for the team, having the team donate the money to charity or another solution this conflict of interest must be addressed.
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