Hal Steinbrenner has made it clear that the New York Yankees are steadfast in getting the team's payroll under $189 million by the 2014 season — even if it means not re-signing valuable Yankees players and passing on desirable high-profile free agents.
Much to the chagrin of longtime Bronx Bomber fans, Hal and his brother Hank are committed to showing everyone these ain't their daddy's Yankees.
But, as Hal left the Major League Baseball owner's meeting in Arizona Thursday, the Yankees' managing general partner insisted that trimming the payroll will occur only if the Yankees can still contend for a title while doing so.
“All I can continue to tell everyone is our commitment to the fans is never going to change,” Steinbrenner said. “We will always field a championship-caliber team. Is our goal 189 next year? Yes. But only if I’m convinced if the team I see, that we’ve put together, is a championship-caliber team.”
Asked if that meant the $189 million luxury tax threshold was a number carved in stone, Steinbrenner said, "I've been resolute that that is our goal, and that is our goal. But I've also said, including spring training a year ago, that to achieve that goal, these young players have to step up and get the job done."
Steinbrenner specifically mentioned Manny Banuelos and Michael Pineda — two young pitchers who suffered injuries last season after being touted as key additions. Losing two young players is a big deal on a team that has half the roster getting AARP promotions in the mail.
Getting under the luxury tax's Mendoza Line won't be easy with Alex Rodriguez's $114 million, five-year logjam of a deal and the upcoming free-agency of the Yankees best player — Robinson Cano — which could break the bank. Still, the lower payroll is a team priority, according to Steinbrenner.
Concerning the criticism by some old school fans who yearn for the free-spending ways of his dad, George Steinbrenner, Hal sounded like he was satisfied with Brian Cashman's off-season pick-ups.
"I'm surprised to hear that there's anger, if you see what we've done this off-season ... we've signed three or four of the top free agents that were on the market, because we're going to continue to field a championship caliber team."