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Yankees fans/media are already drooling about signing Manny Machado

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Baseball’s new CBA means different things to different people. To the New York media, it’s a chance to drool over Manny Machado.

Baltimore Orioles v New York Yankees
Manny Machado is ours for two more years at least, New York. You can’t have him yet.
Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

With the Yankees mired in what is, for them, a span of several years worth of irrelevance, we haven’t had as many reasons recently to remember how obnoxious their fans and media are.

After all, the Yankees haven’t won a playoff game since Game 5 of the 2012 American League Division Series, the one where Nate McLouth missed a home run by something like two inches. The Yankees have not won more than 87 games in any of the past four seasons.

The Yankees have managed to pull off this streak of non-contention despite having a combined Opening Day payroll over the past four seasons of $869,093,097. If not for the Alex Rodriguez Biogenesis suspension, they would have opened all four of those seasons with a payroll over $200 million. The Yankees, simply put, have not really mattered.

That’s a good thing for any Baltimore sports fan who, like me, is still holding a grudge over Jeffrey Maier and the 1996 ALCS that was stolen from the Orioles. It’s also a good thing because it means we haven’t had to spend as much time looking at nonsense like this:

WARNING: DO NOT VIEW THE BELOW IF YOU JUST ATE, OR ARE EATING RIGHT NOW

Even having braced myself for it, the sight of Manny Machado in pinstripes makes me want to barf, along with the sight of Bryce Harper. If you didn’t vomit all over the place (hey, I warned you) I have a feeling your eyes might have rolled about as hard as they’ve ever rolled.

Of course, it’s the New York Daily News, a tabloid paper, and really we’re just giving them the attention they want by even getting worked up about it. But come on, give me a break. The free agency of Machado and Harper is still two years in the future, and the conclusion they come away with is that the most relevant thing to talk about from the new CBA is how those players will be heading to the Bronx in time?

It’s obnoxious, though it’s not wrong. The increasing luxury tax threshold in the new CBA - it’ll be $206 million for the 2019 season, the first after Machado and Harper are scheduled to be free agents - means that the Yankees will have an easier time getting under that number.

Even better for the Yankees, and worse for Orioles fans, is that New York will shed a lot of payroll between now and then. A combined $46 million for Alex Rodriguez and CC Sabathia will come off their books after 2017. They ditched $23 million of Brian McCann’s salary onto the Astros and got two prospects to boot. They are, perhaps, saving up to splurge when the big names become available.

This is not the first time this sort of thing has come up. It’s been a while since people in the baseball media world started thinking about the great baseball free agent class of 2018.

There are more big names than just Machado and Harper who will be in their final year of arbitration in the 2018 season, barring a contract extension with their present clubs, although Machado and Harper, as the youngest and best, will be in line for the biggest paydays, if everything goes like you’d expect.

Not to single out Yankees fans or media for engaging in this behavior. There aren’t any bad Photoshops from Boston papers to link today, but you don’t have to look very hard to find Red Sox fans/media openly coveting the same players. This one, from February, is almost even more ridiculous because it was written three full seasons before the big free agent bonanza.

It doesn’t help that this kind of thing is the fear of every Orioles fan, whether or not they’ll all admit to it. Machado being gobbled up by the big-market bullies in the division, with O’s fans subjected to seeing him in one of those uniforms 19 times a year, is not an outcome I’d like to imagine.

The Orioles aren’t chumps when it comes to payroll, not any more. The assertions of some in Birdland about Peter Angelos being a cheap owner have been without any factual basis for some time. This past season, Business Insider ranked the Orioles Opening Day payroll as 10th in MLB.

The O’s are spending money, if not always wisely, and they, too, figure to have some money to spend after the 2018 season. And anyway, it’s not worth spending much time worrying about it yet. That grim future envisioned by the New Yorkers is still two seasons of baseball away.

A lot can happen in two years, like, say, a Machado contract extension in Baltimore, which I wake up every morning, including today, telling myself that maybe today will be the day. Probably not. But maybe!

Yankees fans and media will probably find a way to be obnoxious whether or not their team ends up signing Machado and/or Harper in two years time. Here’s hoping for another two years of Yankees irrelevance before we get there.