Michael Kay delivers harsh truth on Hal Steinbrenner's payroll, Juan Soto

When Hal speaks, believe him.
New York Yankees v San Diego Padres
New York Yankees v San Diego Padres / Orlando Ramirez/GettyImages

Two things can be true. When Hal Steinbrenner claims that he has every intention of paying Juan Soto a massive lump sum of money to end his career with the New York Yankees (13 years from now, not immediately), he's telling the truth. When Steinbrenner claims that, as a result of a monstrous Soto deal, the payroll will have to shift downwards overall, you should believe him.

That means that, as much as Yankees fans might not want to consider it, there's a chance that 2025's roster -- with Soto -- is slightly less competitive than the 2024 edition, featuring low-priced young talent in place of Anthony Rizzo and Clay Holmes. That also means that, yes, if all Soto wants to do is chase money, there's a chance that even Steinbrenner's most serious offer has a limit that other motivated buyers might be able to surpass.

Those buyers would have to be untethered from reality, but ... yes, it could happen, as Yankees announcer Michael Kay laid out in a recent Q&A.

While there's no reason to panic about Steinbrenner's recent comments, Soto will have to have a certain degree of "buy-in" to the Yankee Way in order to return long-term, and next year's roster might not look quite as complete as this year's edition if he does sign an expensive contract in the Bronx. You can win with a payroll under $300 million in MLB. The Yankees will now have to show that they can, too.

Yankees' payroll will be under $300 million in 2025, will hopefully include Juan Soto

It's important to note that Soto will certainly be getting a raise next season ($15-20 million), but isn't currently making rookie scale. He already accounts for a record-setting $31.5 million in arbitration salary. The Yankees won't just be adding $48 million next winter if Soto does make their dreams come true. We're talking about reducing the overall payroll by $25-30 million, not $60-70 million.

Kudos to Kay for enjoying Steinbrenner's "honest" assessment. We can't necessarily say we sympathize with the plight of the Yankees' billionaire financiers when it comes time to split hairs, but as long as said hair-splitting ends with a competitive Soto offer and the allure of pinstripes (it will), we'll have to accept the charges.