In a good way! He sounded like The Boss in a good way. Not in the way where he plans to hire a PI to stalk Aaron Judge, nor in the way where he attempts to trade Aaron Judge for BJ Upton, Chris Johnson and Andrelton Simmons.
In the way where he will not be denied and, once he’s not denied, will also not be done.
Hal Steinbrenner’s return to the airwaves this week on the YES Network didn’t answer many questions. His vagaries about “positive conversations” with Judge, and the declaration that the Yankees would do “whatever they can” to retain him, rang hollow. After all, there’s really no limit to what they can do. His first crack at the media didn’t reveal much about what they would do.
Perhaps, though, Steinbrenner was holding back on the Yankees-owned media platform because he knew how things would change in a few short hours.
After the surprise signing of Anthony Rizzo was announced on Tuesday evening, the team’s owner changed his tune, revealing a newfound willingness to push the limits of his personal finances in order to put a championship-level product on the field.
In past years, Yankee fans have deluded themselves into believing Steinbrenner was willing to spend on free-agent fits like a top shortstop or supplemental ace for Gerrit Cole. This year? It seems like Steinbrenner has made several promises to Judge in recent weeks to continue to build him a team after laying the foundation.
And, for the first time in a long time, there’s reason to believe Judge will join Rizzo in the weeks to follow in a crucial second step of a multi-faceted plan.
Yankees cement themselves as favorites for Aaron Judge in Hal Steinbrenner’s latest comments
On the one hand, some Yankee fans would rather hear stories of a limitless budget.
On the other, it’s far more realistic to realize the budget is limited, while equally reassuring to hear that those limits extend beyond deals for Rizzo, a looming deal for Judge, and the forthcoming signings of additional championship-level pieces both this offseason and in the years to come.
According to Steinbrenner, he and Judge discussed this in recent days, too. That means … the man means business. The man has taken control of negotiations. The man will make sure his intentions are heard, and he apparently does not intend to miss.
In terms of negotiation, it might not be Steinbrenner’s strongest strategy to storm into the Winter Meetings like a lion, declaring that he will not be outbid in his pursuit of Judge.
Conversely, though, fans have heard from Steinbrenner plenty in the past. He’s rarely this declarative. He likely wouldn’t speak this way if he had any inclination that any other team had the capacity — or the gumption — to challenge him.
Steinbrenner took the reins on Tuesday in his efforts to make Aaron Judge a Yankee for life. He also put his money where his mouth was, paving the path for future additions with a Rizzo signing that both raised the first baseman’s salary and didn’t break the bank.
His father would be proud. As long as he proceeds to finish the job.