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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Yankees Lead MLB at All-Star Break Despite Low-Spending Offseason

  • New York set a franchise record with 64 wins before the break — despite spending the 19th-most ($35.4M) in MLB last offseason.
  • Nestor Cortes, Jose Trevino, and Clay Holmes are among the inexpensive players who made the All-Star team.
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

In 1998, the Yankees rolled into the All-Star break with a 61-20 record — the highest winning percentage (.753) since the Midsummer Classic was first played in 1933 and an MLB record that stands today. They would go on to win the World Series that season.

This season, the Bronx Bombers entered the break with 64 wins — a franchise record.

If this year’s team is to follow in the footsteps of that iconic ‘98 squad and win it all, they’ll do so in a way that is not typically New York: This past offseason, the Yankees spent $35.4 million in free agency — 19th-most in the league.

They’ve been getting outstanding value from inexpensive sources.

  • RP Michael King, SP Nestor Cortes, and C Jose Trevino are all pre-arbitration and making less than $728,000 this season; the latter two were named AL All-Stars.
  • RP Clay Holmes was also an AL All-Star and is making $1.1M in his first season of arbitration.
  • After signing for $1M in May, Matt Carpenter shows a whopping 1.380 OPS through 97 plate appearances.

The Bombers’ one big signing from the offseason — Anthony Rizzo on a two-year, $36 million pact — has 22 home runs and is on pace to set a new career high.

They also locked in manager Aaron Boone on a three-year extension last October.

All of this said, the Yankees still have the third-highest payroll ($250.8M) in MLB thanks to a litany of high-profile transactions before last offseason. Gerrit Cole ($36M), Giancarlo Stanton ($29M), and Josh Donaldson ($23M) are their three highest-paid players this season.

And then there’s AL MVP candidate Aaron Judge, who is making $19 million this season to avoid arbitration after a failure to secure a long-term deal. The rest of the season will be crucial to his potential future in the Bronx.

Perhaps most impressive about this New York team’s accomplishments is that they’re coming in a historically great AL East.

All teams in the division are at or above .500 at the All-Star break — including the Orioles, who are the first team since at least 1990 to win 10 games in a row despite the lowest payroll in MLB.

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