The Yanks are one of the top suitors for the recently posted Japanese ace, but Tanaka will reportedly seek at least $17 million a year when he begins negotiating with teams on Thursday. A deal of that magnitude would almost certainly vault New York's 2014 payroll well over the $189 million threshold.
As repeat offenders, New York would then be forced to pay a penalty of 50 cents on every dollar they spend over $189 million -- and they'll get nothing in return for that expenditure. Last year, the team paid out $28 million in penalties -- an undertaking they'd obviously like to avoid in the future.
On the other hand, they could decide Tanaka is worth the added expense. He's often touted as the best starter remaining on the open market, and the Yanks could use another live arm in the rotation. They would certainly benefit from adding a pitcher like Tanaka to their current group of CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda. Internal options like David Phelps, Adam Warren and Nick Turley could come into play if they fail to land another impact free agent, but given the questions surrounding the group already in place, the fewer inexperienced options in the rotation, the better.
A-Rod's role in the Yankees payroll situation hasn't been determined yet, but a decision is coming soon. If he's able to wriggle out of his suspension, or at least see it reduced, the club will likely be paying tax penalties regardless of whatever additional moves they decide to make.