Giants

Giants one of record six MLB teams to pay luxury tax this season

Giants one of record six MLB teams to pay luxury tax this season

NEW YORK -- A record six teams are paying baseball's luxury tax this season, led by the Los Angeles Dodgers at $31.8 million and the New York Yankees at $27.4 million.

Boston ($4.5 million), Detroit ($4 million), San Francisco ($3.4 million) and the World Series champion Chicago Cubs ($2.96 million) also were sent bills Friday by the commissioner's office, according to information obtained by The Associated Press.

The Yankees are paying for the 14th straight year since the tax began, raising their total to $325 million. New York has said it hopes to get below the threshold by 2018.

Los Angeles owes for the fourth consecutive year and like New York pays at a 50 percent rate on the amount above the $189 million threshold. The Dodgers paid a record $43 million for 2015, and their four-year total is $113 million.

Boston and San Francisco pay at a 30 percent rate as offenders for the second straight year, and Detroit and the Cubs - a first-time payer - are at 17.5 percent.

The number of teams over the threshold topped last year's mark of four. This year's total tax was $74 million.

Major League Baseball negotiated the luxury tax in an effort to slow spending by large-market clubs and combined with revenue sharing has helped increase the competitive of small-market teams and those in the middle.

The threshold increases to $195 million next year under the new labor contract, and tax rates go up, too. There will be additional surtaxes, raising the rate to as much as 95 percent for the amount above $235 million, with the increase to be phased in for 2017 at the midpoint between the old and new rules.

Los Angeles lowered its payroll from a record $291 million last year to just under $255 million, which topped the major leagues for the third straight year. For purposes of the tax, which uses average annual values and includes benefits, the Dodgers' payroll was nearly $253 million.

Luxury tax payrolls figure to increase slightly across the major leagues next year because of a provision in the labor contract calling for the inclusion of salaries of players sent outright to the minors starting this Dec. 1.

The Yankees' regular payroll was second at $224.5 million, up slightly from last year's $223.6 million, followed by Boston ($200.6 million), Detroit ($199 million), the Cubs ($182 million), San Francisco ($181 million) and the Los Angeles Angels ($173 million).

Milwaukee had the lowest payroll at $65.5 million, down from $98 million last year. Tampa Bay was at $67 million, down from $77 million.

Spending on 40-man major league payrolls totaled nearly $4.1 billion, an increase of $200 million.

Luxury tax payrolls are based on the average annual values of contracts and earned 2016 bonuses, and regular payrolls include 2016 salaries, earned bonuses and prorated shares of signing bonuses.

Luxury tax checks to the commissioner's office are due by Jan. 21. Tax money is used to fund player benefits and MLB's Industry Growth Fund. Starting next year, part of the money also will be used to fund player Individual Retirement Accounts and part will be given to teams not over the tax threshold.

Teams pay on the amount they are over the tax threshold. The tax rate starts at 17.5 percent for first-time offenders, then climbs to 30 percent, 40 percent and 50 percent in subsequent years, resetting when a club drops below the threshold for a season.

Starting next year, the tax rates will be 20 percent, 30 percent and 50 percent, with a 12 percent surtax on the amount $20 million to $40 million above the threshold. There will be an additional surtax of 42.5 percent on the amount more than $40 million over for first-time offenders and 45 percent for subsequent offenders.

What will Farhan Zaidi look for in next Giants manager?

What will Farhan Zaidi look for in next Giants manager?

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Whether he’s watching the team from the dugout, standing in the clubhouse hallway, or walking back and forth on the back fields at Scottsdale Stadium, Farhan Zaidi always seems to have his cell phone pressed to his ear. 

That was the case Monday when Bruce Bochy announced that this will be his final season, but Zaidi said he did not get calls from coaches around the game looking to get a head start in the search process. He knows that will change, though. It didn’t take long after Zaidi took the Giants job for colleagues to start asking about a potential GM position, and you can bet that parts of this season will be spent having secret discussions with candidates to replace Bochy.

The man who actually hired Bochy 13 years ago believes that’s a good thing. This won’t be a distraction or an awkward situation, Brian Sabean said. Zaidi was informed during the hiring process that Bochy was likely headed for retirement, and Sabean believes that gave everyone time to get “out front” and “on board.”

“I think it should relax the atmosphere among all parties and give (Bochy) his proper due, give him his proper sendoff, but it also gives Farhan some good lead time to noodle this whole thing or line up how he’s going to attack it,” Sabean said. 

Zaidi has already been through this process once before. He teamed with Andrew Friedman in 2015 to hire Dave Roberts in Los Angeles, and that collaboration proved to be a successful one. Zaidi, a communicator by nature, spent years with the A’s and Dodgers and has given plenty of thought to what or who he would look for if given his own shop.

He wouldn’t give anything away this week, but he has a short list forming in his head already. 

“I think everybody is shaped by their own experience and people that they’ve come into contact with that they value their baseball acumen or their personal values or those kinds of things,” he said. “Everybody just by virtue of their own experience has a list of people that they’ve thought, ‘That guy could be a manager one day,' or, 'If I’m in a position that’s someone I would think about.’”

While Zaidi said this would be a collective process, Larry Baer made it clear that his president of baseball operations will take the lead. Baer said people within the organization — Hensley Meulens and Ron Wotus would be two likely internal candidates — will be considered, but most of the candidates Zaidi has experience with would come from the outside. 

One possible candidate, David Bell, came off the board a couple of weeks before Zaidi was hired. When Bell joined the organization as farm director in 2017, he was viewed as a likely successor to Bochy or general manager Bobby Evans. The Reds hired him away in October. 

Bell was a nice blend of old and new, someone who could be a respected voice in the clubhouse but also work seamlessly with an analytics-driven front office. Roberts has been the same in Los Angeles, and that seems the likely mold for this search. 

But Zaidi promised to be open-minded, pointing out that he and Friedman had no idea Roberts would even be a finalist when they began that search. To that point, two executives known as analytics types put together an eclectic group of candidates when the Dodgers were looking for Don Mattingly’s replacement. 

Gabe Kapler, a favorite to win the Dodgers job back then, was certainly a modern choice. But the Dodgers also reportedly interviewed longtime baseball men Tim Wallach and Ron Roenicke, both of whom were in their late fifties at the time. Kirk Gibson was brought in, and he’s certainly not the type to be a puppet for a front office. Former Angel Darin Erstad, current Rockies manager Bud Black and current Nationals manager Dave Martinez also reportedly interviewed.

That’s not a group that has a ton in common.

[RELATED: Odds for next Giants manager to replace Bruce Bochy brings wild names]

Zaidi has a reputation for being the smartest guy in the room, but he loves spending time with scouts and experienced coaches, and has regularly positioned himself behind the cage this spring, chatting up players and Giants coaches. He eventually will find a replacement for Bochy, but right now it’s not something he’s worrying much about. 

“I’m sure there will be conversations and inquiries along the way, but it’s not the focus for us,” he said. “For me, I’m still trying to learn the organization and the players and make sure I get off to the right start.”

Giants' Buster Posey likely won't play in spring games until March 1

Giants' Buster Posey likely won't play in spring games until March 1

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- There has been nothing over the first couple weeks of camp to indicate that Buster Posey won't be ready Opening Day, but the Giants promised all along to be cautious, and that will start Saturday when the Cactus League season kicks off. 

Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Posey won't play until March 1, and that may be the case for some other veterans. Brandon Crawford has been watched closely the last couple of years and Bochy wasn't sure if any regulars would be in the lineup Saturday when the Giants visit the Angels.

He said it's the right thing to do with a long spring, although he's hoping to get big names out there soon, aware that fans often pay a lot for spring games. 

"As a kid, I was one of those guys that would skip school to see spring training games in Florida," Bochy said.

Brandon Belt and Joe Panik seem the most likely to get out there early on. Belt said he's eager to see real pitching. As for the rest of the everyday lineup, Evan Longoria fits the vet status, the Giants have position battles in both outfield corners, and Steven Duggar is coming off shoulder surgery and may be a few days behind. 

Bochy had a somewhat unusual spring when veterans like Cameron Maybin, Gerardo Parra, Stephen Vogt and Yangervis Solarte signed late. He said there's no rush to see what they can do. 

"These guys are chipping some rust off," he said. 

[RELATED: Giants 'trying hard' for Bryce Harper, but not optimistic]

--- The schedule for the starters early on: Chris Stratton and Ty Blach on Saturday; Madison Bumgarner on Sunday; Derek Holland and Drew Pomeranz on Monday; Dereck Rodriguez on Tuesday; Jeff Samardzija and Andrew Suarez on Wednesday. 

--- At the beginning of camp, Bochy said he hoped to get Joey Bart into early Cactus League games. That remains the plan. 

--- One more on the "Bochy is retiring" front: Here's what Bob Melvin had to say.

--- I wrote about top pitching prospect Shaun Anderson the other day. Here's some video of him in action today. There's certainly a Noah Syndergaard thing going on at times.