The Major League Baseball Players Association has reportedly filed a grievance against the New York Yankees on behalf of Jacoby Ellsbury, according to the Associated Press.
The grievance is over his contract, specifically the final $26 million owed to Ellsbury that the MLBPA is trying to recoup. Ellsbury hasn’t played since 2017 and was released in November, with one year remaining on the seven-year, $153 million contract he signed with the Yankees in December 2013.
Ellsbury is owed $21 million for 2020 and a $5 million buyout for 2021, but the Yankees don’t want to pay it. In early December the New York Post reported that the Yankees were converting his contract from guaranteed to non-guaranteed and withholding that $26 million from Ellsbury, claiming that he violated the terms of his contract and received medical treatment at Progressive Medical Center in Atlanta without the Yankees’ authorization.
According to the Associated Press, Ellsbury says that he received treatment for non-baseball injuries, which does not require team authorization and would not be a breach of contract.
The result of the arbitration could have a big impact on the Yankees’ finances. With their current commitments, including the $21 million owed to Ellsbury in 2020 and Gerrit Cole’s recently-inked contract, the Yankees’ projected payroll sits just over $245 million. With MLB’s luxury tax threshold set at $208 million in 2020, they’re already over by nearly $38 million and will be paying penalties. They’ll pay a 30% penalty on the first $20 million they go over, and 42% on the next $20 million.
If the Yankees’ payroll hits $248 million, which is less than $3 million away, they’ll be subject to the harshest luxury tax penalties. They’ll pay an additional 75% penalty on anything above $248 million, and their top pick in the 2021 draft will be moved back 10 spots.
The Yankees still have some work to do on their 2020 roster, which means they’ll almost certainly be hitting that top tier if they have to pay out Ellsbury’s 2020 salary.
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