Steinbrenner Says Yankees Target $189 Million Payroll to Avoid Luxury Tax

New York Yankees co-owner Hal Steinbrenner said he wants to lower the team’s player payroll to $189 million over the next few years to avoid paying baseball’s luxury tax.

Under Major League Baseball’s new collective bargaining agreement, the tax threshold will be $189 million during the 2013 season. Teams that spend more on players have to pay an escalating levy based on how far they are above the salary limit.

“I’m looking at it as a goal, but my goals are normally considered requirements,” Steinbrenner told reporters at the Yankees’ spring training camp in Tampa, Florida, according to MLB.com. “Is it a requirement with baseball that we be at 189? No, it’s not a requirement. But that is going to be the luxury- tax threshold, and that’s where I want to be.”

Steinbrenner said the Yankees’ payroll this season is projected to be about $210 million, the highest in the majors. Their payroll was just more than $212 million last year, when they paid a luxury tax of $13.9 million, the Associated Press said.

“I’m a finance geek,” Steinbrenner said. “That’s my background. Budgets matter, and balance sheets matter. If you do well on the player-development side, and you have a good farm system, you don’t need a $220 million payroll. You can field every bit as good a team with young talent.”

The Yankees have had baseball’s highest player payroll for the past 10 years. Their lone World Series title in that span came in 2009.

“I’m just not convinced we need to be as high as we’ve been in the past to field a championship-caliber team,” Steinbrenner said.

The Yankees are scheduled to open the 2012 season on April 6 against the Tampa Bay Rays.

To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Matuszewski in New York at matuszewski@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net

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