How much have the Yankees actually spent on improvements this off-season?

mlb: washington nationals at new york yankees, brian cashman
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At first glance, it doesn’t seem as if the New York Yankees have been that aggressive this off-season when it comes to adding payroll to their current financial structure. In 2023, the team had a $280.1 million active total payroll and sat in the $233 million tax threshold.

Owner Hal Steinbrenner indicated that spending $300 million to field a team wasn’t entirely necessary, and while it seemed the Yankees were going to spend this off-season, they haven’t made the grand splashes financially that many expected. Of course, they traded for Juan Soto and consumed his $30 million in estimated arbitration salary, but the Yankees have a $273 million projected total payroll at the moment, which is $7 million less than their 2023 number.

The Yankees Need More Pitching Badly

General manager Brian Cashman is still looking for starting pitching, but that may not come in the form of a big contract to a player like Jordan Montgomery or Blake Snell. He may spend a little bit on the reliever market, with a couple of quality options still available, but he could look to trade for a more affordable piece.

Shane Bieber from the Cleveland Guardians certainly stands out as a good target, given he’s coming off a down season and has an estimated $12.2 million salary this upcoming season. That cost would keep the Yankees around their 2023 total payroll numbers, but they need more than one starting pitcher to help fuel a World Series run this upcoming season.

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After all, they were willing to give $300 million to Yoshinobu Yamamoto before he signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers. However, saving that money should open up some more possibilities, whereas they could wait until 2025 to make a serious run at Corbin Burnes and extend Soto. Burnes could earn $30 million per season, and Soto is in line for a historic contract for a position player, but the Yankees have the financial flexibility to do a lot.

In the meantime, they haven’t actually spent any real money in free agency this off-season since Sotos’s contract was acquired via trade. That being said, Cashman will need to be a little aggressive at some point and add another pitcher. It is just a matter of who represents value and isn’t an overpay.

For example, Montgomery could be looking for a deal in the $150 million range, but the Yankees know he’s coming off his best season and looking to cash in. He may regress moving forward, and at 31 years old, his best year may already be behind him.

It makes sense that Cashman is being cautious with his spending, which suggests a potential trade market move, but that would mean selling more prospects after already giving up a number of pitchers to acquire Soto, Trent Grisham, and Alex Verdugo.