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Around the Empire: Yankees news - 4/4/17

Payroll is third-highest in MLB; How Cashman sold the rebuild; NYY could be forced to add more protective netting; NY has more Mets fans than Yankees fans; Sanchez and Sabathia will see more time together

MLB: New York Yankees at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

New York Post | George A. King III: The Yankees haven’t had the highest MLB payroll for a couple of years, but they had been second. For the first time in 24 years, the Yankees aren’t in the top two in terms of payroll. As has been the case for a few years now, the Dodgers ($225 million) had the highest payroll in the league and are now followed by the Tigers ($199.75 million) in second place. The Yankees ($195 million), in their never-ending quest to buy Hal more yachts, have lowered payroll enough to come in at third in the league.

FanGraphs | Travis Sawchik: It’s an exciting time to be a Yankee fan because the future looks bright. The Yankees have youth in the lineup and more help developing and on the way. They accepted their fate and sold assets at last year’s trade deadline, thanks to Brian Cashman. Cashman wanted to rebuild a few years ago but ownership’s goal to always field a “CHAMPIONSHIP CALIBER TEAM” stood in Cashman’s way. He was finally able to convince Hal Steinbrenner last year and get his way. This is his story. Former PSA writer Harlan Spence also gets a shoutout for his excellent post on myths about rebuilding and the dynasty era Yankees!

New York Times | Zach Schonbrun: A member of the New York City Council is going to propose a legislation that would require both the Yankees and the Mets to have the protective netting behind home plate extend to the ends of both dugouts. Even though MLB has provided each team with recommendations on how far to extend the netting, there are still an alarming number of fans who get injured from foul balls or bats flying into the stands. Though some teams are starting to extend the netting Rafael Espinal, the Council member leading the charge for this legislation, said he didn’t want to wait for either team to do this on their own.

FiveThirtyEight | Harry Enten: Every year since at least 1998, Quinnipiac University has conducted a survey of how New Yorkers are split in terms of fandom, and for the first time in 20 years it seems New York has more Met fans than Yankee fans. Considering sports fans in general tend to be more supportive when their favorite teams are winning, this isn’t really too surprising since for the last few years, the Yankees have churned out teams that can only be described as CHAMPIONSHIP CALIBER average, while the Mets are seemingly on the rise.

New York Post | Dan Martin: Last year when Gary Sanchez came up and took the baseball world by storm, the Yankees did everything they could to play him everyday. The only problem is even young catchers can’t catch every day, so Joe Girardi ended up resting Sanchez on days CC Sabathia pitched. Now that Sanchez’s entrenched as the team’s starting catcher, he and Sabathia are sure to be batterymates often. Sabathia’s had mixed results in the four games Sanchez has caught him (one last year, three in spring), but that’s probably reading way too much into anything. As long as Sabathia is healthy, the two should have no problem getting on the same page.