When the new collective bargaining agreement went into place this past December, we heard that the Yankees wanted to get their payroll down to just $189 million by 2014 when newer, harsher penalties went into place.
That never came directly from Brian Cashman or Hal Steinbrenner though, but when speaking with reporters Thursday morning Steinbrenner confirmed rumors and said that the Yankees don’t need a big payroll to win.
“The 189 in two years is definitely a goal of ours,” Steinbrenner told Chad Jennings of the Journal News. “We’re not too far off. We’re going to have a very similar payroll this year to last year, but I think we have a better team. Somewhat of an accomplishment I guess, on paper anyway. We’ll see. But yes, that 189 is a real number, and we’re going to be shooting for it.”
“I’m a finance geek,” Steinbrenner explained as the reason for the budget tightening. “I guess I always have been. That’s my background. Budgets matter, and balance sheets matter. I just feel that if you do well on the player development side, and you have a good farm system, you don’t need a $220-million payroll. You don’t. You can field every bit as good a team with young talent. When you consider Banuelos and Betances and some of the pitching we have coming up with Nova and Hughes and Pineda, next year, when one of those two or both of those guys are up, we’re going to have the kind of young pitching, I don’t know when the last time was.
“… Luxury tax is an option. It’s a personal option. We do it. We go into it knowing exactly what we’re doing. Being the only team that does it, I’m just not convinced we need to be as high as we’ve been in the past to field a championship caliber team.”
“I’m looking at it as a goal,” Steinbrenner said. “But my goals are normally considered a requirement. Is it a requirement with baseball that we be at $189 (million)? No, it’s not a requirement. But that is going to be the luxury tax threshold and that’s where I want to be.”
That’s certainly different from his father, who was a win-at-all-costs type. However, as some of the bigger busts have come through the Bronx over the past 10 years have shown, just spending money doesn’t guarantee a world championship.
It’s great to hear Hal talk about player development because that was one thing his father, George Steinbrenner, never cared about. There are pluses and minuses to each point of view, but this is what we have now a team that has about a $206 million budget that will be trimmed by $17 million over the next two years.