During the great panic of 2017-18, when jobless players were jumping on conference calls and asking one another what the hell happened to free agency, the Major League Baseball Players Association tried to allay fears by pointing toward the future. It wasn’t particularly satisfactory for those lacking employment, but the 2018-19 offseason, players were told, shouldn’t be like this. The New York Yankees, the game’s financial behemoth, would dip below the $197 million competitive-balance-tax threshold – lawyer-speak for the luxury tax – to reset the penalty for their years of profligacy.
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