MLB

Steinbrenner to lower Yankees' payroll

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TAMPA, Fla. (AP)

New York Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner wants to lower the team's payroll to $189 million over the next few years.

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Under baseball's new labor contract, the luxury tax threshold will be at $189 million after the 2013 season. By getting under the threshold, the Yankees would be eligible to get some of their revenue-sharing money back.

''Is it a requirement with baseball that we hit 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 Thursday. ''I don't think it's an unrealistic goal. My goals are normally considered a requirement.''

Steinbrenner said this season's payroll is around $210 million. He thinks the Yankees can be successful at a lower level with a strong player-development system.

The Yankees were hit with a $13.9 million luxury tax last season. New York's final 2011 payroll was $212.7 million for the luxury tax, which uses average annual values of contracts on the 40-man roster and includes benefits. Using salaries and prorated shares of signing bonuses, the Yankees were at $216 million.

''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. ''We'll see who comes off (salary-wise) in the next couple years.''

The luxury tax threshold is $178 million this year and next, then rises to $189 million for 2014-16. Significantly, a market disqualification test for revenue sharing is phased in, gradually making teams in the 14-15 largest markets ineligible to receive money. Those funds go back to the teams that pay, as long as they are under the tax threshold.

New York will pay at a 42.5 percent rate on its amount over the tax threshold this year as a frequent repeat offender and would pay at a 50 percent rate if it goes over in 2013, as is likely. But if the Yankees get below in 2014, their rate would go down to 17.5 percent if they exceed the threshold in 2015.

As for this year, New York has a number of promising prospects, including pitchers Dellin Betances and Manuel Banuelos.

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''We'll see how these young kids perform towards the end of this year and into next year,'' Steinbrenner said. ''The young kids are going to play a big part of being able to lower this payroll. I am going to need some of these young pitchers to step up.''

Steinbrenner again reiterated that he's not planning to work on any in-season contract extensions.

''Right now I just want to get through this season before we talk to anybody,'' he said.

Steinbrenner gave his support to Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, who had a difficult personal offseason.

Cashman's wife filed divorce papers last month, a day after prosecutors charged a woman with stalking him and extorting money over an extramarital affair.

''I'm not going to get into personal situations of employees,'' Steinbrenner said. ''It's not Yankee business. I can only say that we're here to support him.''

As for the upcoming season, Steinbrenner is upbeat about the defending AL East champions.

''I'm excited,'' he said. ''I think we've got, on paper, definitely a better team than we did last year. I think our starting pitching is improved, and that was one of our goals during the offseason.''

New York has added starting pitchers Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda.

The Yankees open spring training play on Friday with an exhibition against the University of South Florida.

Notes: Spring training instructor Reggie Jackson arrived at camp. The Hall of Famer, who was late arriving last year after back surgery, had shoulder surgery this offseason. ... Lou Piniella, a new addition to the spring instructors' group this year, was also at the ballpark. ... 2B Robinson Cano rejoined the team after being gone three days after the death of his grandmother. ... Non-roster RHP Manny Delcarmen will miss four or five days because of a right lat muscle injury. ... The Yankees had an abbreviated workout Thursday to allow a team function away from the ballpark that involved improv skits.

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