The Yankees’ payroll compared to the Rays’ will blow your mind

Alexander Wilson
Gerrit Cole, New York Yankees
Sep 29, 2020; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Gerrit Cole (45) delivers against the Cleveland Indians in the fourth inning at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees are known for their aggressive mentality when it comes to signing star players on massive contracts. Just to start, Gerrit Cole signed a nine-year, $324 million deal in 2019, averaging $36 million per season. Next up, Giancarlo Stanton, who is earning $26 million per season and accounts for 8.8% of the payroll. Masahiro Tanaka accounts for 7.78%, with a $23 million hit pre-arbitration.

The list goes on and on, and the Yankees must do something to lower their overall payroll and begin to rely on players who fit an analytical mold. The Bombers have simply adjusted their team to hit home runs, while their pitching has lacked severely in recent seasons.

In addition, their inability to hit for contact and get on base has completely polarized their offense from double-digit scoring days to barely earning any hits. Inconsistencies plagued them during the 2020 season, which saw the Tampa Bay Rays knock them out of the postseason in the ALDS.

Aside from their offensive woes, the defense and pitching have been tumultuous. They have three starters hitting free agency in James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka, and JA Happ. That will clear about $52.5 million off the payroll.

Now, let’s compare their payroll to the Tampa Bay Rays’, who currently sit at $28.3 million. The Yankees are at $109.4 million, to give you an idea of the vast differential. The Rays are currently in the World Series, preparing to face off against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Their top-paid player is Charlie Morton, who is earning $15 million per year and accounts for 20% of their payroll. The Yankees have six players making over $15 million and three players making over $20 million to give you some perspective.

So what does this tell us? It tells us that money doesn’t necessarily buy wins, and the Yankees’ model has severely limited their ability to develop their own players and find the right pieces to build a winning team. In addition, they have injury problems with their sluggers, which have plagued them over the past few seasons.

Management is headed toward a dangerous path, as they will soon have to pay Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, and Gleyber Torres, whether it be on a contract or through arbitration.