The days of the New York Yankees buying every top-shelf free agent are over.
"Economic realities are economic realities," general manager Brian Cashman said at baseball's winter meetings. "Money is not unlimited and it's time for some harsh austerity around here. We would like to keep our payroll at just under $190 million. It will be tough, but we're committed to tightening our belts around here."
Baseball's luxury tax kicks in at $190 million. Even with a $189 million payroll in 2013, the Yankees will exceed any other team's payroll by approximately $20 million and will have more than double the payroll of 18 of baseball's 30 teams.
"People won't be able to talk about the big-spending Yankees anymore, that's for sure," said Cashman. "Did you know that just yesterday, I didn't offer a free agent a multi-year, eight-figure deal? I had never heard of the guy, it was some Dominican infielder or something, and I thought: 'You know what? Maybe don't give this guy all of the money. Maybe it could be spent better in other ways.' That's the first time I've ever done that. Usually if an agent calls, I double his client's best offer sight unseen."
Yet having somehow won just one World Series in 12 years despite out-spending every other team year after year, Cashman says he has some wiggle room here and there for the right move, or moves, that will guarantee a championship.
"If we can land Josh Hamilton and that pushes are payroll up to $210 million?" said Cashman. "I mean, sure. A figure like $21 million here or there isn't going to sink anyone. Well, not us, at least. Same goes for a few of the other top free agents. Basically, I don't want to go over $300 million this year, with that $189 million figure as a nice Plan B to have."