Hal Steinbrenner Talks Yankees Money to Spend
In the winter of 2015, the Yankees signed exactly zero free agents. This time around, though, it sounds like Hal Steinbrenner’s bunch are open for business.
Hal Steinbrenner sat down on Wednesday at the MLB owners meetings to set the record straight that his New York Yankees are open for business, regardless of what many in the media say about the penny-pinching going on in the Bronx.
As opposed to last season’s guaranteed salaries, the Yankees have $58M more to play with, now that Mark Teixeira, Aroldis Chapman, Carlos Beltran, and Andrew Miller all reside elsewhere. This time next year, you can add another $65M more to team reserves when the contracts of Alex Rodriguez, CC Sabathia, and Tyler Clippard come off the books.
The trickiness of understanding these figures comes in the form of knowing that the Yankees’ plan all along has been to shed salary so that the organization can get under the luxury tax of $189M before the 2018 season.
While the mega-trades of last season coincide with this game plan, the players the Yankees have been linked to this offseason (though nothing is concrete) would say otherwise. Exhibit A would be a reunion with recent World Series champion, Aroldis Chapman. The top closer on the free agent market is to have told interested parties he wants a contract nearing the $100M mark.
So does Steinbrenner still feel ambitious enough to target a player he instructed general manager Brian Cashman to trade on Aug. 1, for a haul that immediately launched the Yankees up the Minor League prospect rankings?
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“Look, any time you can get a guy who’s already proven he can play in New York,” Steinbrenner said, “then that’s a plus in the column.”
For all the skeptics that feel the Yankees are solely focused on staying away from proven Major Leaguers, while only pulling from their suddenly improved farm system, Steinbrenner was adamant in his belief that the Yankees will still be active to add pieces that make an immediate difference.
“We have money coming off the payroll for the first time in a few years, and we’re going to put a decent portion of it back in the club like we always do.
“There are areas we need to work on. I think the bullpen is the top priority. If we can’t fill them from within, if we can’t figure out a trade of some kind, then there’s the free-agent market. We’ve always been involved in the free-agent market and always will be. We’ll just have to see.”
Yet, just when you thought that Hal was about to get like his daddy and open the purse strings like it’s 2009 all over again, he offered this antidote to dispel a super team including Mike Trout and Bryce Harper is coming to a Yankees outfield anytime soon.
“Clearly my focus is to put a great product on the field that more and more people want to see, an exciting product. It will be a product of our key players and veterans because we need them as mentors.
“(To) finally have that base of young players, a lot of people are excited. That’s what I want. I want to bring excitement back to the stadium.”
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It seems like Steinbrenner wants the best of both worlds — a team full of exciting young (inexpensive) talent while also adding a polished piece or two that can push the Yankees back to the Postseason — all the while staying under the $189M luxury tax. But is this really possible? I guess it will all depend on how the team performs on the field this season, and how fed up fans and team personnel get with waiting to win the big one.