MLB agent’s savage Yankees comment sums up Hal Steinbrenner problem

Hal Steinbrenner of the New York Yankees (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Hal Steinbrenner of the New York Yankees (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /

People want to scoff at us when we write about how the New York Yankees only spend a comparatively small (and non-escalating) portion of their budget and don’t seem overly concerned with getting over the top or flexing their muscle.

OK. Word. What about when a powerful MLB agent says it and prints in The Athletic? 

Or, you could just believe the dedicated fans, who’ve experienced the same song and dance with this franchise for the past decade.

Could Brian Cashman theoretically win on a shoestring budget? Sure. It’s been done. By the Tampa Bay Rays, repeatedly and in perpetuity. But has Cashman ever done it? Nope. The Yankees seem intent on becoming the smartest person in the room when that role is already occupied while looking at a hybrid model in Boston that’s making the dream come true. And yet, no pivot whatsoever from our beloved Bombers.

Yes, the Yankees spend. They splurged $324 million on Gerrit Cole and absorbed Giancarlo Stanton’s contract.

Yes, the Yankees love stars. They’re supposedly saving money this time around for Aaron Judge’s forthcoming extension and likely captaincy.

But they don’t seem to care much about, you know, domination. They’re happy just to float some marquee names to the fan base, compete as much as they have to in order to stay relevant, then hope to trip into a title somewhere along the line, which might be a fun side venture. Per The Athletic (subscription required), MLB agents are beginning to notice this is a production more than it is an elite sports team.

One MLB Agent says the Yankees are like a big-budget Broadway show that doesn’t care about awards.

Guess that would make Aaron Boone more like a director than a manager, right? Or maybe the lead actor? A familiar face who you keep around because he’s a main character, but not a steward of any kind? Someone fans can latch onto, but no one important.

We’ve said it time and again — calling the Yankees “cheap” and demanding they spend irresponsibly isn’t fair. Nobody wants to enter the dark days of recycling every top prospect and losing a Fred McGriff just so you can add an Ed Whitson on a whim. A smart, functioning team needs to have a minor-league foundation, too.

But the Yankees — the New York Freaking Yankees — do not need to worry about balancing Gary Sánchez’s $8 million salary with anything. They don’t need to dangle extra prospect capital to the Cubs in an Anthony Rizzo trade so that Chicago agrees to eat salary and keep Hal Steinbrenner under the luxury tax. They don’t need to attach Luis Cessa to a midseason Justin Wilson dump in order to get financial flexibility they never use.

And they certainly don’t need to prioritize Judge’s extension over a Carlos Correa deal. They can do both, as long as they have the intention of getting much, much better.

What this agent posits is that they don’t. And we agree.

If they don’t intend on ever spending to the degree they’re capable of, perhaps Brian Cashman isn’t the right man for the job after all. If only the producer in charge of this whole thing, one Hal Steinbrenner, ever got dissatisfied with the performance he was financing.