MLB Rumors: Yankees’ Blake Snell Stance ‘Softening’ Recently amid Free Agency Buzz

The New York Yankees’ interest in free agent pitcher Blake Snell has seen “a slight softening” recently, according to Jon Heyman of the New York Post.

A team source said that Snell’s agent would need to agree to a lower price in order to finalize a deal, Heyman wrote.

Heyman previously reported on Feb. 1 that the Yankees were willing to offer a contract bigger than Carlos Rodon’s six-year, $162 million contract to acquire Snell.

According to Heyman, however, Snell might be seeking something more comparable to the seven-year, $245 million deal Stephen Strasburg signed with the Washington Nationals in 2019.

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The reigning NL Cy Young winner led the league with a 2.25 ERA through 32 starts for the San Diego Padres in 2023.

According to Heyman, sources believed the Yankees might be willing to extend their original offer to six years, but were clashing with Snell’s camp on the cost. The Yankees and Snell were “about $100 million-plus apart” at the time of the club’s original offer, according to Heyman.

“The short-term thought might be tough for the Yankees since a higher average annual value adds luxury-tax money, and they’d still be giving up draft choices,” Heyman wrote.

Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner said last spring that “you shouldn’t have to have a $300 million payroll to win a world championship because nobody has,” per Mark W. Sanchez of the Post.

It took less than a year for Steinbrenner’s thinking to change. He confirmed Thursday that the Yankees’ 2024 luxury tax payroll would be above the highest competitive balance tax (CBT) threshold of $297 million for the first time in franchise history, according to Chris Kirschner and Brendan Kuty of The Athletic.

For every dollar spent above that threshold, the Yankees will pay a tax of 110 percent, likely more than doubling the cost of Snell’s AAV for the 2024 season.

The Yankees already saw their 2024 draft pick bumped back ten spots as a luxury tax penalty for the $273 million payroll that earned the team a fourth-place finish in the AL East in 2023.

A long-term commitment to a high average annual value for Snell— according to Heyman, the former Padres pitcher might be seeking around $35 million per year— increases the risk the team will continue paying that penalty years into the future.

Snell made $16 million last season in the final year of his five-year deal with the Padres.

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