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AP NewsBreak: Yankees hit with $18.9M luxury tax

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AP NewsBreak: Yankees hit with $18.9M luxury tax

NEW YORK (AP) The New York Yankees were hit with an $18.9 million luxury tax by Major League Baseball, the 10th consecutive year they will pay a penalty for their spending.

The team finished with a $222.5 million payroll for purposes of the tax, according to figures sent to teams Thursday and obtained by The Associated Press.

Following its payroll-shedding trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers last summer, Boston finished just $47,177 under the $178 million threshold. The Los Angeles Angels wound up at $176.7 million and Philadelphia at $174.5 million.

Figures include average annual values of contracts for players on 40-man rosters, earned bonuses and escalators, adjustments for cash in trades and $10.8 million per team in benefits.

New York has run up a luxury tax bill of $224.2 million over the past decade, with the fee increasing from $13.9 million last year. The Yankees' tax rate rose from 40 percent to 42.5 percent this year and figures to climb to 50 percent next season. But they hope to get under the threshold in 2014, when it rises to $189 million. Dropping under the threshold would lower their potential tax rate in 2015 to 17.5 percent.

``It affects my decision-making process, my communication about the pressure points we have,'' Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said, adding that market rates for free agents also impact his choices.

For the regular payroll calculation - 2012 income plus prorated shares of signing bonuses - spending by the 30 big league teams broke $3 billion for the first time at $3.15 billion after falling $43,000 short of the milestone last year.

The Yankees finished at a record $223.3 million, their 14th consecutive year as the biggest spender and topping their previous mark of $222.5 million in 2008.

However, the Dodgers could break that mark next year following a summer and autumn of acquisitions. Los Angeles currently is at $207.9 million for 21 signed players, including adjustments for the August trade with Boston that brought Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett to the Dodgers. The Yankees are at $182 million for 14 players, including a deal with Ichiro Suzuki that hasn't been finalized.

``You don't get a trophy for having the highest payroll,'' Cashman said. ``I'm not going to feel weird either way, if we're the highest or we're not the highest. That's not the issue. Just want to be the best.''

Philadelphia was second at $169.7 million, followed by Boston ($168.6 million), the Angels ($160.1 million), AL champion Detroit ($140.7 million) and World Series champion San Francisco ($138.1 million).

Even while shedding some stars during the season, Miami rose from $61.9 million to $89.9 million. The Marlins figure to drop to the bottom of spending next year after trading nearly all their veterans.

Among the big slashers were the New York Mets (from $142.2 million in 2011 to $103.7 million) and the Chicago Cubs (from $140.6 million to $107.7 million).

Oakland won the AL West despite the lowest payroll in the major leagues at $59.5 million. The division rival Angels rose from $143.1 million to $160.1 million yet still missed the playoffs. They added slugger Josh Hamilton this week with a $125 million, five-year deal set to be announced Saturday.

The Dodgers, sold during the season to a group headed by Mark Walter, Stan Kasten and Magic Johnson, climbed from $109.9 million in 2011 to $129.1 million. In the last week they added pitchers Zack Greinke ($147 million over six years) and Ryu Hyun-jin ($36 million over six years).

The commissioner's office computed the average salary at a record 3,104,563, up 2.2 percent from last year's $3,039,161, The players' association, which uses a slightly different method, pegged the average at $3,213,479, up 3.8 percent.

Payroll figures are for 40-man rosters and include salaries and prorated shares of signing bonuses, earned incentive bonuses, non-cash compensation, buyouts of unexercised options and cash transactions, such as money included in trades. In some cases, parts of salaries that are deferred are discounted to reflect present-day values.

According to the collective bargaining agreement, checks to pay the luxury tax must be sent to the commissioner's office by Jan. 21.

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Rui Hachimura says, 'Kobe was a hero for me'

Rui Hachimura says, 'Kobe was a hero for me'

Kobe Bryant's popularity stretched far beyond the United States. He was a global icon and especially loved in Asia. 

Following the NBA star's shocking death on Sunday, the entire sports world grieved and shared fond memories of Bryant all over social media. 

Rui Hachimura grew up in Japan idolizing Bryant, so he took to Twitter a day after the accident to share his thoughts on his hero.  

"I was very shocked to hear of this incident," Hachimura said. "I really can't believe it. I can't speak. Kobe is also a hero to me, and I've seen [him] a lot since I was little. I have met him only once.

"Three years ago, during [the] Final 4, [Bryant gave] a special pair of shoes as a surprise to the team," he said. "Not only that, he talked about what Mamba Mentality is and what people should be before basketball players. 

"He was more than just a basketball player," he said. "It is really sad that this accident was like this. I wish good luck to his family and those who have been involved in this accident. Thanks, Kobe."

After Michael Jordan retired, Bryant became the most popular player in Japan. Along with Hachimura, he inspired players like Grizzlies forward Yuta Watanabe to play the game of basketball in the first place. 

Similar to what made Bryant so popular in the United States, Japan loved him for his tireless work ethic and killer instinct on the court. That's what earned him 15 All-NBA selections and five NBA titles, and along with his efforts off the court post-retirement, earned him the love and respect of so many people around the world. 

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Ravens' options in a potential Matthew Judon trade

Ravens' options in a potential Matthew Judon trade

According to a report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Ravens have expressed interest in moving on from Matthew Judon through a trade this offseason. 

Judon, who isn’t under contract for next season, was tied for 19th in the league in sacks with 9.5 — a team-high. He was also the team-leader in quarterback hits with 33. The next best pass-rusher was Tyus Bowser, who registered 10. 

Lined up for a big payday, and with a high-priced franchise tag an option, the Ravens could lose their second pass-rusher in as many years on the free agent market should they elect to not pay Judon the elite pass-rusher money he’ll likely command.

Which brings the Ravens to the report from Schefter that indicated the team could move on from Judon, 27, through the sign-and-trade route. 

Should Judon, or the Ravens, walk away from the negotiating table in free agency, two options exist: The Ravens could either let him walk freely to another team and likely receive a 2021 third-round pick as compensation, or place the franchise tag on Judon. 

With the franchise tag option, the Ravens could keep him for a season and essentially kick the can down the road for a year, or trade him for a return that would likely be greater than the compensatory third, and more importantly, the help would be immediate. 

A few weeks ago, coach John Harbaugh said re-signing Judon would be, “pretty hard,” but that the team was going to try.  

But if the Ravens aren’t able, or are unwilling, to sign Judon, a potential blueprint for a future trade might have been laid out last year by the Chiefs. 

Last season, the Chiefs traded Dee Ford to the 49ers for a second-round pick just a month before they sent first and third-round picks to the Seahawks for Frank Clark and a third-round pick.

Ford had 13 sacks in 2018 and 29 quarterback hits while Clark had 13 as well and 27 quarterback hits. They both immediately signed long-term, expensive contracts with their new teams. 

Baltimore could make a move similar to that with Judon and get better, and more immediate, compensation for him and later add a pass-rusher with the draft capital than the team added.

The Ravens have just under 29 million dollars in cap space, meaning they’ve got the space to sign Judon to a long-term deal or keep him on the franchise tag, but they’d need to make some moves to be able to field a full roster. And that full roster, if Judon isn’t in Baltimore in 2020, needs pass-rushing help. 

Baltimore had 37 sacks as a team, and just over a quarter of them came from Judon. It also had 111 total quarterback hits, and 29.7 percent came from Judon. 

So the report that the Ravens could move Judon could play out, perhaps the most interesting aspect of a Judon trade would be the replacement the Ravens would need to have lined up.

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