In doing some number-crunching this weekend, I noticed a pretty astounding fact about the New York Yankees' current financial situation for 2014. I'm not one who is easily surprised, and nothing should ever surprise anyone when it comes to the Yankees and payroll, but this one got me.
With their signings of Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran and Hiroki Kuroda, the Yankees currently have nine players who will make at least $15 million in 2014 and five who will make more than $20 million.
That list includes Alex Rodriguez, who is set to make $25 million if he is successful in his suspension appeal. The list, by the way, does not include Yankees captain Derek Jeter, who is in line to make $12 million in 2014. It’s possible that with one more big signing by the Yankees, Jeter drops out of the Top 10 on the Yankees’ payroll list. Not sure I ever envisioned that happening.
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But perhaps the most surprising thing I found is the lack of $15 million-plus players in the American League East in comparison to the Bronx. The Yankees have nine; the other four teams have a combined five players who will make $15 million or more.
The stat is a little bit misleading, because arbitration figures aren’t in yet. So Tampa Bay lefty David Price, for instance, could make $15 million or more in 2014 and increase the number to six – assuming Price stays with the Rays, that is. Plus, there are players such as Adam Jones and the Rays’ Evan Longoria who have contracts that will pay them beyond $15 million in the future, but not for this upcoming season.
Strictly based on 2014 salaries (and according to Baseball Prospectus’ Cot’s Contracts), the Red Sox have two players who fit the category (John Lackey and Mike Napoli), the Blue Jays have two (Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle), the Orioles have one (Nick Markakis) and the Rays have zero.
Let’s stick with the Yankees for another moment. It’s obvious how badly they need a second baseman right now. And it seemed like Mark Ellis would be a perfect fit, but Ellis reportedly is about to sign with the St. Louis Cardinals.
That doesn’t leave many high-profile choices left for the Yankees. One, of course, is Brian Roberts, and there have been media reports out of New York that the Yankees have talked to his representation. But the sense, at least heading into the weekend, is that it was just tire-kicking and not a hot pursuit.
Many Orioles fans have given up on the 36-year-old Roberts due to his health problems the last four seasons. But I still can’t imagine Orioles fans would be happy if Roberts ended up in New York.
From what I’ve been told, the Orioles haven’t yet made a big push to bring back Roberts. However, I still get the sense that -- when the smoke clears -- the Orioles will retain Roberts. But you can’t blame Roberts if he jumps at another deal, especially with a perennial contender.
Another player the Orioles had interest in appears to be heading to the Atlanta Braves: former Severna Park resident and Mount St. Joseph’s alumnus Gavin Floyd.
The Orioles spoke several times with Floyd and monitored his rehab from Tommy John surgery, but were told a few days ago that he was expected to sign with another club. The Braves are an interesting choice. They aren’t that far from his Clearwater, Fla., home and obviously have a strong track record in rehabbing arms.
Floyd is a good guy and it would have been nice to have him in Camden Yards – maybe pitching to Steve Clevenger, another Mount St. Joe guy. But he won’t be ready for the beginning of the season and the Orioles could use immediate help in the rotation.
And speaking of that, from what I was told this weekend, there’s been no change in the status of right-hander A.J. Burnett, the Monkton resident who is contemplating retirement. The Orioles would love to have him (he was 10-11 with a 3.30 ERA in 30 starts with the Pittsburgh Pirates last year) and would try to sell the local angle.
Burnett, who will be 37 in January, has two school-aged boys, so pitching with the Orioles would afford him more time at home. Plus, the Orioles don’t want to dole out a long-term deal for a pitcher and Burnett is probably on a year-to-year basis these days.
But it is not a given that Burnett is choosing between retirement and the Orioles. The Pirates, for one, want a shot in those sweepstakes. So don’t expect the Orioles to stop looking around for pitching while Burnett decides what he wants to do. The Orioles can’t afford to do that, even if he appears to be the best remaining fit.