On Thursday at an owners’ meeting in Orlando, Florida, Yankees managing general partner and owner Hal Steinbrenner responded to recent criticism that the team has been cheap this offseason as Bryce Harper and Manny Machado remain unsigned with days to go before the start of spring training.
“If there’s a narrative that we’re not spending money and being cheap, it’s just false,” he told reporters, via ESPN.
“I mean, we’re well above $200 million [in payroll] — we’re at $220 [million] right now — and we’re well above where we were last year. We did everything we wanted to do to really improve, again, the pitching, because that’s where I wanted improvement, because as far as I’m concerned pitching was a big problem in the division series, more so than anything else.”
This winter, New York has re-signed CC Sabathia, Brett Gardner, J.A. Happ and Zack Britton along with the acquisition of James Paxton via trade with the Seattle Mariners, and Adam Ottavino, DJ LeMahieu and Troy Tulowitzki via free agency.
Last year, the Yankees avoided the luxury tax for the first time since it was established in 2003, but the contracts of LeMahieu and Ottavino have pushed New York’s payroll to about $220 million, which is well above the $206 million threshold.
Steinbrenner also spoke about whether his team might still be in the market to bring in any more top players this winter.
“Fans should keep an open mind that I’m never done until I’m done, and that’s usually not until Opening Day,” Steinbrenner said. “Proposals come to me every day with these guys, between the analytics guys and the pro scouting guys, and I’m going to consider every single one of them.”
The Yankees finished 100-62 in 2018, the club’s best record since its last championship season in 2009, but they finished eight games back of the American League East champion Boston Red Sox. The Yankees beat the Oakland Athletics in the AL Wild Card Game, then lost to the Red Sox 3-1 in the division series. Boston went on to win its fourth World Series title in 15 years.