Olney: No MLB salary cap? Tell that to this year’s free agents


Steve Cohen is the ghost of Christmas future for some Yankees fans who fear that the Mets’ new owner will begin hoarding the type of pricey players who have long been the exclusive domain of the Steinbrenner family. This is the context in which Brian Cashman has been answering questions lately, and why he has mentioned that his boss typically spends more money than other teams do.

“I’m aware of what my directives are from ownership,” he said on a Zoom call with reporters the other day. “I’m not permitted to share that publicly. … But I am aware of what my directives are, and I feel confident that we will again have the highest payroll regardless, and so our commitment to fielding a tremendous team is still going to be intact.”

What Cashman did not say is that, in the end, the Yankees’ 2021 payroll might fall under the threshold for baseball’s Competitive Balance Tax — the latest example of how the CBT levels agreed to by the players and owners in 2016 have effectively served as a salary cap in a sport that theoretically operates without a salary cap.

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