Hal Steinbrenner's "serious goal" is to have the Yankees' payroll fall below the $189 million salary threshold. With that in mind, here at ESPN New York, we have examined potential free-agent and trade candidates in a feature we called "Spend Hal's Money."
The Yankees seem to be in tune with their fans. The Bombers' initial plan is to try to win the posting and sign Masahiro Tanaka to go along with inking Robinson Cano. If that works, the Yankees think they may have enough money to reel in at least one more big-time free agent, and one of the top guys on their list is catcher Brian McCann.
This plan lines up with the "Spend Hal's Money" exit polls:
On Tanaka, whom I recommended the Yankees go after, nearly 10,000 votes were cast, with an overwhelming mandate of 86 percent wanting to sign him.
Ultimately, the Yankees will formulate their plans based on how well they project Tanaka can pitch, but they are aware of the buzz Tanaka can bring in terms of season ticket sales. Plus, landing Tanaka would take a sufficient amount of heat off Steinbrenner, as it would clearly demonstrate how he would pay forward the potential tens of millions being saved in luxury taxes and revenue sharing by investing it in the posting fee. Now, going on the assumption that Tanaka's undefeated and almost unhittable season in Japan wasn't a mirage, he seems like a win-win-win for the Yankees.
On Cano, fans are also in tune with the Yankees. They know they could be running into the same old problem with the second baseman; while they want him for the short term -- the next three to five years -- they realize that his mid- to late-30s might not look so great. With that in mind, Wallace Matthews recommended giving Cano the money, but not the years. Wally had a final deal at seven years and around $210 million.
Although I agree with Wally's overall point about the years -- heck, from the Yankees' point of view, it is hard to imagine you would want to go more than five years with the 31-year-old -- I think the length of the deal could help with their $189 million goal. If you give Cano that same $210 million over eight years, then his average annual value would drop from $30 million to $26.25 million.
The way the luxury tax and revenue sharing calculates salary, it is based on the average salary for the life of the contract; you couldn't just pay Cano a million bucks next year and then make it up to him later.
Still, I believe those AAVs, in both the above scenarios, are too high. Cano should probably get around $23 million a year for eight years, which would be a grand total of $184 million. The Cano case will be fascinating, and you seem a bit split on what the Yankees should do; only 58 percent said the franchise should spend Hal's money on the second baseman.
For McCann, fans believe he would be a major upgrade over the Chris Stewart/Austin Romine/Francisco Cervelli trio that was on display in 2013. McCann brought in 82 percent of nearly 6,000 votes with the message to ownership being clear to go get him.
McCann, a power-hitting left-handed catcher, makes perfect sense for Yankee Stadium, if the team believes he can remain healthy into his thirties. There will be plenty of competition for him, for sure.
Below, we have separated the wants from the don't wants, and the fans continue to be in line with what the Yankees have planned. In parentheses next to their names are the percentage of "spend" votes each player received.
SPEND HAL'S MONEY CUTS: Shin-Soo Choo (46), Chase Headley (45), Jacoby Ellsbury (44), Curtis Granderson (42), Jhonny Peralta (42), Matt Garza (39), Tim Lincecum (37), Nelson Cruz (31), Mike Napoli (31), Josh Johnson (30), Ricky Nolasco (20), Stephen Drew (19).