The New York Yankees lowered spending on players by $12 million this year, cutting payroll by $5 million and slashing their major league-leading luxury tax by more than $7 million.

New York was hit with an $18 million luxury tax yesterday by Major League Baseball. The tax was New York's lowest since 2003 and down from $25.7 million last year, when the Yankees won the World Series.

Boston is the only other team that will have to pay. The Red Sox, who missed the playoffs this year, exceeded the payroll threshold for the first time since 2007 and owe $1.49 million.

Since the current tax began in 2003, the Yankees have run up a bill of $192.2 million. The only other teams to pay are Boston ($15.34 million), Detroit ($1.3 million) and the Los Angeles Angels ($927,000).

New York's payroll was $215.1 million for the purpose of the luxury tax, which this year had a threshold of $170 million. Boston's luxury-tax payroll was $176.6 million.

The Phillies had the third highest payroll at $145.5 million.

The Yankees, Phillies, Twins (10th at $103 million) and the World Series champion San Francisco Giants (11th at $101.4 million) were the only teams from the top half of the 30-team payroll list to make the playoffs.


* Righthanded reliever Bobby Jenks finalized a $12 million, 2-year contract with Boston. He converted 19 of 20 save chances with the White Sox last season before struggling with arm problems.

* Righthander Rich Harden and Oakland agreed to terms on a 1-year contract after he passed a physical. Harden went 5-5 with a 5.58 ERA in 20 appearances and 18 starts last season for Texas.

* A person familiar with negotiations told the Associated Press that Milwaukee and infielder Craig Counsell have agreed to a $1.4 million, 1-year contract. The 40-year-old Counsell has played the last four seasons for the Brewers.