Yanks drop to third in payroll

NEW YORK — The New York Yankees aren’t among baseball’s top two payrolls for the first time in nearly a quarter-century, making cuts along with some other traditional big spenders.

The Los Angeles Dodgers topped the major leagues for the fourth straight opening day but dropped to $225 million, according to a study by The Associated Press. That’s the Dodgers’ lowest payroll since 2013.

Detroit was second at $199.75 million and the Yankees, in the midst of a turn toward youth, third at $195 million. The Yankees had not been outside the top two since 1993, and their opening-day payroll had not dropped this low since 2007, according to the AP’s calculations. New York topped opening-day payrolls from 1999-2013 before falling behind the Dodgers each year since 2014.

“It’s kind of a different feel than when I came up. It’s got a lot more younger look to it,” said Yankees catcher Austin Romine, a member of the organization since he was drafted in 2007. “It’s interesting. It’s refreshing. It’s nice to see young guys getting chances.”

After setting a baseball record at $270 million two years ago, the Dodgers declined to $234 million last year.

The $4.51 million average salary for major leaguers on opening day was up 1.6 percent from last year’s average of $4.38 million, the lowest rise since 2011. It followed an offseason with a relatively weak free-agent class in which just one player topped $100 million — New York Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes.

“There are indeed many factors that feed into the numbers every year, and therefore conclusions should not be drawn against any one particular offseason,” union head Tony Clark said Sunday.

Faced with an increase in the luxury tax, some high-revenue teams pared payroll. Boston slashed spending from $190 million to $179 million.

“The total percentage of MLB revenue that clubs pay to players has remained relatively stable,” said Dan Halem, Major League Baseball’s chief legal officer. “Reducing the amount of payroll disparity is certainly the goal of many provisions of the collective bargaining agreement, but we evaluate the system based on multiyear trends rather than a single year’s experience.”

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