SBD/December 5, 2013/Franchises

Yankees Eyeing Return To Playoffs, Boost In Ticket Revenue With Free Agent Splashes

Rodriguez and Cano could have a big impact on the Yankees' payroll in '14
A "lust for trophies isn't the only thing fueling" the Yankees' free-agent splurge this offseason, as when they "fail to make the playoffs, as they did in 2013, their revenues plummet," according to Brian Costa of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Public records show that "proceeds from ticket sales and stadium suite licenses alone totaled" $295M through Sept. 30 this year. That is down from $353M in '12, $377M in '11 and $384M in '10. Attendance represents "just one of the Yankees' revenue streams, but it highlights the enormity of the financial incentives for the team to make the playoffs." Sources said that the drop-off from '12 is "almost entirely a result of the fact that they missed the playoffs for the first time" since '08. The sources added that had the Yankees failed to reach the playoffs in '12, their ticket and suite revenues "would have been closer" to $300M rather than $353M. If the Yankees return to the playoffs in '14, spending a combined $238M on CF Jacoby Ellsbury and C Brian McCann and perhaps $170M or more on 2B Robinson Cano "will be well worth it" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 12/5).

MORE MONEY, MORE PROBLEMS? In N.Y., Mark Feinsand notes the only way for the Yankees to reach their goal of getting below the $189M luxury tax threshold is to see 3B Alex Rodriguez "suspended for all of 2014, slashing his $27.5 million salary ... off the books." Yankees Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner for months has maintained that the $189M figure "is a goal, not a mandate, noting that putting a championship-caliber team on the field is the biggest priority." So far, he has "backed that up" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 12/5). Also in N.Y., David Waldstein notes the Yankees still plan to sign "one or two more relief pitchers," and hope that P Hiroki Kuroda comes back for $16-17M on a one-year deal. If Cano leaves, there is "plenty of money left to spend on free agents, or Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/5). In Newark, Steve Politi writes under the header, "Yankees Offseason Will Be A Failure Without Signing Robinson Cano" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 12/5).

BACK TO THEIR OLD WAYS: In Hartford, Jeff Jacobs writes of the Yankees, "If you can't beat 'em, outspend 'em. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. Either way, loving the Yankees means never apologizing for opening the wallet" (HARTFORD COURANT, 12/5). In N.Y., Joel Sherman writes, "Love it or hate it, complain that it is hurting the sport or building value for all, call it a stupid way to operate or the Yanks behaving as a behemoth should, this is what the Steinbrenners do" (N.Y. POST, 12/5). The N.Y. Daily News' Frank Isola said the Ellsbury signing is a "classic Yankee move, right out of the George Steinbrenner playbook." Isola: "They're talking about fiscal responsibility and they go out and give Ellsbury all this money" ("Daily News Live," SNY, 12/4). CBSSN's Jim Rome said, "The Yankees are hellbent on paying for another ring and, apparently, they do not care how much it costs. After missing the playoffs and seeing their archenemy, the Red Sox, punk them by winning it all once again, you know this spending spree is only beginning” ("Rome," CBSSN, 12/4). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Daniel Barbarisi writes, "This is how the Yankees work: in cycles." They commit "big money and long contracts to land top players they know will be on the downslope during the latter stages of their lengthy contracts" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 12/5).
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