MLB’s luxury tax has not kept pace with rising MLB revenues, Nathaniel Grow of FanGraphs explains. The luxury tax threshold grew from $117MM in 2003 to $178MM in 2011, but held steady there for three years before a modest increase to $189MM in 2014, where it remains today. The threshold was once set at 90 percent of the average team’s revenue, but now it’s only 63 percent. That threshold has clearly disincentivized heavy spending for several teams. For example, the Yankees’ payroll has stayed roughly the same since 2005 (hovering at around $210MM-$220MM), even as their revenues have skyrocketed. The luxury tax appears, then, to be limiting player salaries, which means the MLBPA could try to change the system in the next round of CBA negotiations, perhaps aiming to have the luxury-tax threshold tied specifically to each year’s overall league revenues. Here’s more from New York.
- The Yankees are closely watching infielder Jose Pirela as he continues his rehab assignment at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Bryan Hoch of MLB.com writes. Pirela suffered a concussion in Spring Training. “I think he is doing better,” says Yankees manager Joe Girardi. “It’s something that we have discussed about what we might possibly do with him or not do with him, but obviously I think at-bats are important. He was out a month.” Last offseason, Pirela appeared likely to compete with Rob Refsnyder for the Yankees’ second base job, although those plans changed when the team signed Stephen Drew. The 25-year-old Pirela hit a solid .305/.351/.441 at Scranton last season before making a good impression by going 8-for-24 in his first cup of coffee in the big leagues.
- The Yankees ought to pay Alex Rodriguez his $6MM bonus for tying Willie Mays’ career home run mark, Steve Wulf of ESPN The Magazine writes. The team has kept its championship banner from 2009, a year when Rodriguez posted a .933 OPS in the regular season and hit six postseason home runs while taking PEDs. To deny A-Rod his bonus because of PED use would therefore be hypocritical, Wulf argues.
- The battle between the Yankees and A-Rod will be an argument about whether Rodriguez’s milestone 660th home run is about him or about the number itself, writes ESPN’s Jayson Stark. The Yankees’ position will be that the home run isn’t marketable because of A-Rod’s troubling legacy, while Rodriguez’s camp will say that the meaning of the number 660 (and the numbers 714 and 755) in baseball history and in American sports culture more broadly are bigger than A-Rod himself.