Short but important story that I didn't get to yesterday. The final team salary information for the 2015 season was released recently, which means it's time to figure out the big spenders' luxury tax bills. Yay, competitive balance!! Via Bob Nightengale, the Yankees' bill will be $26 million. While that represents the highest total the team has paid since 2009, it still doesn't touch the team record of $34.1 million set back in 2005 and it wasn't the highest total for this year. That honor goes to the Dodgers, who will have to pay a new MLB record $43.7 million on a final team payroll of just under $300 million. The Red Sox and Giants will also pay small taxes.
It's funny that '05 remains the team record for luxury tax payment, as that represents a point in time when the Yankees were at their big spending best. Those times have changed to the inconsistent, penny pinching ways of today, and more than ever it seems like the Steinbrenners are operating with getting under the LT threshold in mind. The current CBA expires after next season and that threshold is sure to get bumped up to at least $200 million with the way revenues and league-wide payrolls have grown. The Yankees will have a ton of money coming off the books then, and if things continue to go the way they are this offseason they'll have a crop of top prospects breaking into MLB full time to provide uber-cheap replacements for those departed big money players.
So the LT price tag for this year may look deceiving, and I'm sure it'll be enough for the beat guys to continue to ignore the lack of spending and payroll expansion in conjunction with booming revenue numbers, but please don't allow yourselves to be fooled by this. Don't start thinking that this is a sign Hal is willing to open the checkbook this offseason because he's not. It's all about getting under that threshold and he's just biding his time until he can.