NEW YORK -- The New York Yankeeslowered spending on players by 12 million this year, cutting payrollby 5 million and slashing their major league-leading luxury tax bymore than 7 million.New York was hit with an 18 millionluxury tax Tuesday by Major League Baseball. The tax was New York'slowest since 2003 and down from 25.7 million last year, when theYankees won the World Series."Atta baby. And right now we're in the 170s," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said, looking ahead to his 2011 payroll.
Season-ending payroll information and the tax was sent to teams Tuesday and obtained by The Associated Press.Boston is the only other team thatwill have to pay. The Red Sox, who missed the playoffs this year,exceeded the payroll threshold for the first time since 2007 and owe1.49 million.According to the collectivebargaining agreement, the Yankees and Red Sox must send checks to thecommissioner's office by Jan. 31.Red Sox president Larry Lucchino declined comment.Since the current tax began in 2003,the Yankees have run up a bill of 192.2 million. The only other teamsto pay are Boston (15.34 million), Detroit (1.3 million) and the LosAngeles Angels (927,000).New York's payroll was 215.1 millionfor the purpose of the luxury tax, down from 226.2 million, and theYankees pay at a 40 percent rate for the amount over the threshold,which rose from 162 million to 170 million. Boston's luxury-taxpayroll was 176.6 million, and the Red Sox pay at a 22.5 percent rate."We're doing a better job ofmanaging our payroll and managing our decision-making as we enter thefree-agent market," Cashman said. "Our payroll doesn't necessarily haveto live at that level, but it's nice to know that our owners arecommitted to allow us to get there if we need to."To compute the payroll, Major LeagueBaseball uses the average annual values of contracts for players on40-man rosters and adds benefits. The Yankees failed to land free-agentpitcher Cliff Lee despite being given permission from ownership to makea 150 million, seven-year offer. Lee agreed to a 120 million,five-year deal with Philadelphia."We weren't going to exceed where wewere this past year, but the bottom line is that now that the Lee thinghas declared itself, it would be hard-pressed for us to get up to thatlevel," Cashman said.While the Yankees are stocked withhigh-salaried veterans, Cashman has mixed in young players in recentyears such as Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain and Brett Gardner."You need a strong farm system thatprevents you from being desperate in the free-agent market," Cashmansaid. "You don't want to be desperate in the free-agent market, becauseyou'll get slaughtered."New York's payroll under theconventional method of calculation - salaries and prorated shares ofsigning bonuses - dropped from 222.5 million in 2008 to 220 millionlast year to 215.1 million this season.Boston's payroll rose by 30.2million to 170.7 million. The 44.4 million between the Yankees andRed Sox was larger than the payrolls of San Diego (43.7 million) andPittsburgh (44.1 million).After moving into Target Field,Minnesota's payroll also went up by 30 million, leaving the Twins 10thin the majors at 103 million. Cincinnati increased its payroll by 9.8million to 82.5 million.Florida raised its payroll by 9.8million to 47.3 million after an agreement by the Marlins with theplayers' association last January to increase spending. Florida movesinto a new ballpark in 2012.The Los Angeles Dodgers cut payrollby a major league-high 21.8 million to 109.8 million as owners Frankand Jamie McCourt argued in divorce proceedings. Houston dropped by17.9 million to 90.1 million and the New York Mets by 14.7 millionto 127.6 million. Cleveland cut 16.7 million to 60.5 million.The Yankees, Phillies (third at145.5 million), Twins and the World Series champion San FranciscoGiants (11th at 101.4 million) were the only teams from the top halfby payroll to make the playoffs.AL champion Texas was 22nd at 74.3million. Joining the Rangers in the postseason from the bottom half byspending were Atlanta (16th at 89.2 million), Cincinnati (19th) andTampa Bay (20th at 77.5 million).Overall payroll dropped by 2.3 million to 2.912 billion.Payroll figures are for 40-manrosters and include salaries and prorated shares of signing bonuses,earned incentive bonuses, non-cash compensation, buyouts of unexercisedoptions and cash transactions, such as money included in trades. Insome cases, parts of salaries that are deferred are discounted toreflect present-day values.The commissioner's office computedthe average salary at 2,932,162, up 1.7 percent from last year's2,882,336. The players' association, which uses a slightly differentmethod, pegged the average at 3,014,572 last week, up 0.6 percent from2,996,106.