Yankees fans won't accept Hal Steinbrenner payroll lie before Juan Soto talks

Not this again...
Aaron Judge Press Conference
Aaron Judge Press Conference / Dustin Satloff/GettyImages

Hal Steinbrenner said a hefty supply of the right things at the midtown Manhattan owners meetings on Wednesday. He noted that player development is key to success, and controllable talent can help ownership justify hefty long-term contracts elsewhere. He made note of the significant amount of money the Yankees have coming off the books next offseason, indicating he has every intention of making good on the Juan Soto extension he's already expressed interest in. There probably won't be substantive talks until after the season anyway, but it's the thought that counts.

And then, obscuring his whole sack of truths was a reiteration of his favorite, gigantic crock that no Yankee fan -- or rival fan -- will ever believe: “I’m gonna be honest, payrolls at the levels we’re at right now are simply not sustainable for us financially,’’ Steinbrenner said. “It wouldn’t be sustainable for the vast majority of ownership [groups], given the luxury tax we have to pay.’’

Are $300+ million payrolls necessary to capture World Series titles? Absolutely not. Maybe if Brian Cashman's your GM, but certainly not for every front office. Are high payrolls necessary? Usually. And, most importantly, is any payroll number "unsustainable" for the mighty New York Yankees? Not a chance.

Uncomfortable, maybe, for a man who was hoping for an even larger revenue number. But the Steinbrenners could certainly make $300+ million, and all the taxes involved, "sustainable" if they really wanted to.

Now, the question isn't, "Can the Yankees afford Juan Soto?"

It's, "Will the Yankees make use of Juan Soto after they extend him? If they need another starting pitcher to contend, will they sign him? Or will they bank on Will Warren's 7.92 ERA helping to create Roger Clemens in the aggregate?"

If New York Yankees sign Juan Soto, will they go the extra mile to compete during his contract?

Give Steinbrenner credit. If he truly believes that strong coaching and player development is necessary to the core philosophy of the next generation of the Yankees, then he's invested will in that particular pipeline, locking in Matt Blake and building a high-tech pitching lab at the team facility that's helped many a transformation along.

Give Steinbrenner credit again. When the team needed Gerrit Cole, he opened up the checkbooks. When the team had to take care of Aaron Judge, he stepped in.

But ding Steinbrenner's credit significantly from those all-important winters. The only MLB free agent contract he paired with Cole was a Brett Gardner re-signing. That was not enough. After extending Judge, he signed Carlos Rodón, but left the offensive cupboard barren, forcing Willie Calhoun to fend for himself as the Yankees' second line of defense. They never scored, returning a familiarly stagnant core from Judge's walk year, unable to recover from a spate of injuries.

The pipeline that fuels the Yankees' future appears to be bright, with Anthony Volpe, Jasson Dominguez, Austin Wells, Ben Rice, Spencer Jones, and Roderick Arias all fulfilling their potential to varying degrees. But while Steinbrenner rarely lied on Wednesday, the one bit of super loud Owner Speak that nobody could stomach overshadowed his more valid points about the freedom of sustainability.

It doesn't sound like it's Soto's next deal that Yankee fans have to fear. It's whatever comes next, and how weak the ensuing push feels.