Bargain-basement Yankees making a mockery of free-agent spending

NEW YORK — In Major League Baseball, you don’t always get what you pay for.

For instance, the New York Yankees on Tuesday night fielded a starting lineup that cost a total of $30 million, or approximately what Manny Machado will be paid annually by the San Diego Padres starting in 2020 and continuing for the following eight seasons.

For that relatively meager amount, the Yankees trounced the Baltimore Orioles for the 16th time in 18 meetings this season, 8-3, at Yankee Stadium. The damage was mainly done by Gio Urshela ($555,000 a year), Mike Tauchman ($557,000), backup catcher Austin Romine, spare outfielder Cameron Maybin, and a minimum-wage starter, Domingo German, who became MLB’s first 16-game winner.

The Orioles, who have all of 39 wins and whose starting nine on Tuesday amounted to just about $9 million, are definitely getting what they paid for. The Yankees, on the other hand, are getting a lot more. All season long, they have been squeezing an incredible amount of value out of a bargain-basement lineup.

This was not their intention, of course; their team payroll of approximately $203 million is their highest since 2016, and their roster includes the bloated contract of Giancarlo Stanton, who is in the fifth year of a 13-year, $325 million contract signed with the Miami Marlins.

But due to an unprecedented rash of injuries, the Yankees have been forced to plug holes with chewing gum and cellophane tape. Remarkably, the makeshift patches have held, and their win Tuesday night made them the first team in the American League to reach 80 wins. They are 39 games over .500 and 9-½ games ahead of the AL East field pending the outcome of a West Coast game between the second-place Tampa Bay Rays and the San Diego Padres.

Meanwhile Stanton has played all of nine games in 2019 and there is no guarantee he will play again this season. According to manager Aaron Boone, Stanton is getting close to getting close. But there’s still no timetable for his return and no one seems to be asking for one.

Likewise, Jacoby Ellsbury, the poster child for bad contracts, is in the second-to-last year of seven-year, $153 million contract and has not been on a major-league field since Sept. 30, 2017 and the consensus is he never will be again, at least not in a Yankees uniform.

In fact, both New York baseball teams are likely to play at least one game in October -- the Yankees are running away with the AL East and the resurgent Mets are in the thick of the NL wild card hunt -- and three of their highest-paid players are likely to play no factor at all.



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