Yankees an Expensive Failure

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With the largest payroll in team history at $279 million, the global brand that is the New York Yankees currently sits in last place in MB’s American League East.

Losing defending A.L. MVP Aaron Judge for almost two full months didn’t help their 2023. But Judge returned to the field at the end of July, and the Yankees have not been any better in August. They have one series split since the month began, and their ninth-inning collapse on Sunday against the Miami Marlins sent them to their third series loss.

Up next for New York is a three-game series against the best team in baseball, the Atlanta Braves.

Good Value at the Top

The $40 million per year contract given to Judge is not the problem with the Yankees. His injury has been unfortunate, but his play when in the lineup has been good. His numbers in 2023 are comparable to his 2017 season, when he hit 52 home runs. His slugging percentage is the second-best of his career, and his on-base percentage is 19 points better than his career average.

The $36 million per year being paid to ace starter Gerrit Cole is also proving to be good value. Of the top-five paid starting pitchers in baseball, Cole is the only one in the top-10 in ERA (he’s third) and strikeouts (he’s fifth). Three pitchers are making more in 2023 than Cole, and only Max Scherzer has been close to Cole’s production.

Where the Yankees are seeing their money lose its buying power is after those two top players. Third on the payroll is Giancarlo Stanton, at $32 million in 2023. He’s batting a career-low .206, a year after he hit a career-low .211. Stanton’s OPS of .738 is also a career-low.

D.J. LeMahieu and Luis Severino are tied for the fourth-highest-paid Yankees at $15 million in 2023. LeMahieu is a former batting champion that is currently in 47th place in the American League. Severino is 2-7 in 13 starts this season with an ERA of 8.06. Last season, his ERA was 3.18.

Same Tired Strategy

The Yankees have been to the playoffs in each of the last six years, and they haven’t posted a losing record in 30 years. Only the Babe Ruth, Joe Dimaggio, and Mickey Mantle-Yankees have had a longer streak of success.

But the Yankees haven’t been to the World Series since 2009, despite topping $200 million in payroll in all but two years since then. Throwing money at free agents has proven to have diminishing returns. 

Since that World Series win 14 years ago, nine different teams have won the World Series, and only the 2018 Boston Red Sox and the 2020 Los Angeles Dodgers had a larger payroll than New York. 

General Manager Brian Cashman is expected to return next season for his 27th year. He won the World Series in each of his first three years as the Yankees G.M., but he has just one ring in the last 23 years.

Yankees No Longer a Safe Bet

When the Yankees won the World Series in 2009, they were the preseason betting favorites at +500. During the Series win before that in 2000, they were even heavier favorites at +250. When this season began, the Yankees were paying +750 to win the World Series. Now at BetUS.com, you can get the Yankees to win the World Series at +8000. You can get the same exact odds on the Marlins.

This has been the story for Yankees bettors over the last decade. Since they were World Series champions, the Yankees have been a top-five preseason betting favorite seven times. And all seven of those years they have failed.

With the current state of management and their current roster construction, a change in success on the field seems like a number of years away.

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