Levine: 'Unfair' that Yanks pay more than Mets in revenue sharing

ESPN logo
Saturday, March 26, 2016

New York Yankees president Randy Levine complained about baseball's revenue-sharing system in a recent interview with Fox Sports, saying it is "unfair" that the Yankees are paying considerably more than the crosstown rival New York Mets.

Levine's comments, which were published Friday by Fox Sports, were made ahead of the looming expiration of Major League Baseball's current collective bargaining agreement on Dec. 1, and the impending labor talks following the 2016 season.

"What is very burdensome to us -- and is unfair -- is the amount of money we have to pay in revenue sharing compared, for example, to teams in our market that pay 10 times less than us," Levine told Fox Sports. "Hopefully that is something that will get looked at in the next labor agreement."

Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon declined to comment to Fox Sports when asked about Levine's statement.

Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred told Fox Sports that he has had "extensive internal conversations" with teams about his revenue-sharing plan for the December labor talks.

"I expect both the Mets and Yankees to be fully supportive of the revenue-sharing proposals we put on the table," Manfred said.

The Yankees' estimated payroll in 2015 was $211.75 million -- the second highest in the majors behind the Los Angeles Dodgers -- while the National League champion Mets had MLB's 10th-lowest payroll at $94.76 million.

Levine told Fox Sports that the Yankees paid approximately $90 million in revenue sharing for the 2015 season. The Yankees also paid $26.1 million in luxury taxes because their 2015 payroll was above baseball's $189 million threshold, raising their total to $297.97 million in tax payments since the system began in 2003.

The revenue-sharing system has been a frequent point of contention among baseball's ownership, especially for high-revenue teams such as the Yankees. Revenue sharing was a divisive issue before and during the 1994-95 negotiations that led to a 7 1/2-month strike. Some teams that pay revenue sharing money have expressed anger at receiving clubs they think are not maximizing their local revenue.

Manfred acknowledged in January that teams have expressed concern about revenue sharing but also said that the system has "helped produce tremendous competitive balance in our sport" and that it is "less controversial among the clubs than it probably was 20 years ago."

Forbes estimated earlier this week that the Yankees are worth $3.4 billion and generate $516 million in annual revenue, making them the most valuable franchise in MLB.

"The Yankee business is strong -- very, very strong," Levine told Fox Sports. "But we're the Yankees. We can always do better. We always look to do better."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.