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New York Yankees have 7th-highest payroll; Boston Red Sox top major leagues

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NEW YORK — The New York Yankees are on track to open the season this week with baseball’s seventh-highest payroll, their lowest ranking since 1992, according to projections by The Associated Press.

The Boston Red Sox will top the major leagues at about $223 million, ending the Los Angeles Dodgers‘ four-year run as the top spender. The San Francisco Giants will be second at around $203 million, and the Chicago Cubs are set to be third at about $183 million.

The Dodgers and Washington Nationals will each be at approximately $180 million, and the Los Angeles Angels will be next at about $170 million. The Yankees will be at around $167 million — their lowest payroll since 2003.

New York has not been ranked as low as seventh since 1992, when it finished ninth at $34.5 million in the final season of owner George Steinbrenner’s two-year suspension. The Yankees rose to third the following year and topped the major leagues from 1994-97 and 1999-2013, interrupted by a season in which Baltimore finished $207,000 ahead. They were second to the Dodgers for each of the previous four years.

“I think it’s good for the game,” said Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia, who took a pay cut from $25 million to $10 million this year. “Shows where the game is at as far as money-wise. Hopefully that translates into more signings next offseason.”

New York owner Hal Steinbrenner vowed to get under the luxury tax threshold for the first time since the current tax started in 2003. New York has paid $341 million in penalties over 15 years.

Boston has not been the highest spender since at least 1990, the earliest year figures compiled by Major League Baseball are readily available.

If the Yankees and Dodgers stay under the threshold, their base tax rate would drop from 50 percent to 20 percent in 2019, putting them in better position next offseason for a free-agent class that includes Bryce Harper, Manny Machado and Josh Donaldson.

The Dodgers set a record with a $270 million Opening Day payroll in 2015 but lowered it to $234 million at the start of the following season and $226 million when 2017 began.

The Oakland Athletics and the Chicago White Sox project to have the lowest payrolls, at about $71 million.

“I’ve been in Oakland most of my career. This seems big to me,” said Yankees pitcher Sonny Gray, acquired from the Athletics last summer. “I don’t know if all the time money dictates talent. But we have a ton of talent.”

Angels outfielder Mike Trout is the highest-paid player for the first time at $34.08 million, which includes a $33.25 million salary and a prorated share of his signing bonus. Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw dropped to second at $34 million after leading the list for three straight years. Arizona pitcher Zack Greinke fell one spot to third at $31.95 million, followed by a trio at $30 million: Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Jake Arrieta, Boston pitcher David Price and Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera.

The average salary is on track to be around the same as last year’s opening figure of $4.45 million, perhaps slightly higher. While many free agents took large cuts, other players with existing multiyear deals had large increases.

Figures are based on rosters as of Monday afternoon, three days before Opening Day rosters are set. They were obtained by the AP from management and player sources and include salaries and prorated shares of signing bonuses for players on the 25-man active roster and disabled lists. Termination pay for released players and buyouts for unexercised 2018 options are included, as are cash transactions in trades.

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Phillies starter Jake Arrieta vows to return quickly after hamstring injury

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PHILADELPHIA — Jake Arrieta promised he’d be ready for the postseason, or sooner. Now the Philadelphia Phillies have to get there.

Arrieta pitched effectively into the sixth inning before leaving with a hamstring injury, Didi Gregorius hit a two-run homer and the Phillies beat the New York Mets 4-1 Tuesday night.

Arrieta (4-4) allowed one run on Brandon Nimmo‘s homer and eight hits in 5 1/3 innings. But he walked off the mound, grabbing the back of his right leg, after hitting Andres Gimenez with a pitch to load the bases.

“I’ll be back for the playoffs, there’s no question in my mind about that. I think I can be back sooner than that,” Arrieta said.

The 2015 NL Cy Young Award winner said he sustained a similar injury in 2017 with the Chicago Cubs.

“In 2017, I had to miss two starts but that’s because I tried to come back prematurely,” he said. “There’s no need to rush this, but I’m going to do everything in my power with treatment with soft tissue work, making sure my tissue is hydrated and everything’s ready to go. If I continue to do that and take care of myself, I don’t intend to miss too much time.”

JoJo Romero entered after Arrieta departed and retired Wilson Ramos on a double-play grounder, with first baseman Alec Bohm making an excellent, backhanded pick.

Romero tossed two innings, Tommy Hunter got two outs and Hector Neris finished for his fourth save in seven chances.

“Our bullpen did an outstanding job today,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said.

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Yankees score 20 runs against Blue Jays to regain footing in AL East

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NEW YORK — The Yankees have transformed back into Bronx Bombers after a three-week stretch in which they nearly bombed out of postseason contention.

DJ LeMahieu and Luke Voit and became the first players at the top of New York’s batting order to have five RBIs the same game, and New York rocketed past the Toronto Blue Jays into second place in the AL East with a 20-6 blowout Tuesday night that extended its winning streak to six.

Voit homered twice from the No. 2 slot, raising his major-league-leading total to 18. Voit and Aaron Hicks went deep to key a seven-run second-inning burst made possible when right fielder Derek Fisher misplayed a pair of flyballs.

“A couple of weeks ago, I don’t think teams were scared of us. And now we’re back to being the Bronx Bombers,” Voit said. “I don’t think people want to play us in the playoffs.”

LeMahieu had four hits and five RBIs, raising his average 13 points to .363. He homered on a 48.7 mph offering from infielder Santiago Espinal leading off eighth, the slowest pitch hit for a home run since MLB started tracking velocity of pitches in 2008.

Gary Sanchez hit a three-run homer off Anthony Kay, and Clint Frazier had a two-run shot against Ryan Borucki.

New York has rebounded following a 5-15 stretch that nearly dropped it out of the eight playoff places in the AL and has closed within two games of Minnesota (30-20) for the No. 4 seed — and a first-round series at home. The Yankees (27-21) and Blue Jays (26-21) started a stretch of seven games against each other in the final two weeks.

“Makes for some sleepless nights,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “And now as we get more and more guys back and healthy and in the mix, I know we’re capable of amazing things.”

Giancarlo Stanton and Gio Urshela returned from the injured list, and the Yankees could get Aaron Judge back Wednesday. They opened a roster spot after Tuesday’s game by optioning infielder Thairo Estrada to the alternate site.

Stanton was 0-for-4 with a walk as the designated hitter, the only Yankees starter without a hit, after missing 32 games because of a strained left hamstring.

“A lot of deep counts, obviously smoked the ball,” Boone said. “I thought he looked good and comfortable.”

Urshela had three hits and made several sparking defensive plays at third after missing 11 games with a right elbow bone spur.

“It’s good right now. No pain,” Urshela said.

Rookie Deivi Garcia allowed three runs and six hits in six innings, in position to be part of the postseason rotation.

New York scored its most runs since a 20-6 win at Atlanta on Aug. 30, 2015. The Yankees batted around in the second, third and fourth innings, the first time they achieved the feat in three consecutive frames since doing it from the fifth through eighth innings in a 22-9 rout of Oakland on Aug. 25, 2011, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Ace Gerrit Cole starts for New York, seeking to join Justin Verlander, Roy Osawlt and Mark Mulder as the only pitchers since 2000 to reach 100 career wins in 203 or fewer appearances.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Astros’ Carlos Correa exits after fouling ball off ankle, X-rays negative

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HOUSTON — Astros shortstop Carlos Correa has a bone bruise in his left ankle after fouling a pitch off of it on Tuesday night.

Houston manager Dusty Baker said X-rays were negative and the team should know more about Correa’s status on Wednesday.

Correa was batting with one out in the sixth inning against the Texas Rangers when he fouled the ball. He immediately fell to the ground and was in significant pain as team officials came to check on him.

He was soon helped to his feet and put his arms around two people as he was helped off the field without putting any weight on his left leg.

Jack Mayfield came in to finish the at-bat and struck out.

The Astros beat the Rangers 4-1 to move to two games ahead of Seattle for second place in the AL West, with the top two teams ensured a spot in the postseason.

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