The reality of the Yankees being the highest-spending baseball team in New York City went out the window when Steve Cohen bought the Mets, but despite pressure from fans, Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner says he won't cave to spend money to keep up with his crosstown rivals.
"I think everybody expects that I do, but the answer is no," Steinbrenner said. "The fact is I can't control what resources the other owners have and what they're going to do with those resources. I make the same commitment every year, my family does, which is to do everything we're able to do to field a championship-caliber team and win a World Series. I will continue to try and accomplish that."
Steinbrenner said he and Cohen, the richest MLB owner, have had a couple of lunches but don't know each other well.
"It's great for the fans of New York to have two competitive baseball teams," Steinbrenner said. "We're in different leagues, but to a certain extent, we're rivals. I think it's going to make the summer a lot of fun."
Trades for Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Josh Donaldson and the re-signing of Anthony Rizzo likely took the Yankees out of the sweepstakes for Carlos Correa, Trevor Story and Freddie Freeman. The team is currently projected to sport a $255 million payroll for luxury tax purposes, with the Mets being the only team with a higher payroll.
Steinbrenner said the luxury tax did not factor into the decision to not go after higher-priced free agents.
"We do have two incredible prospects that I am excited to give a chance to," Steinbrenner said in reference to Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza. "Things like that play into it. Obviously what we've been through with COVID the last couple years plays into it. Then there's other factors that have to do with the individual players that play into it."
Steinbrenner said the current payroll situation would not affect the team's ability to sign Aaron Judge to a contract extension.
"Judge is a very special player and a great Yankee, and we will be having conversations, I have no doubt, in the weeks to come," Steinbrenner said. "Not as much time per usual to figure out the needs we have and figure out how to address them. So my directive to [general manager Brian Cashman] was, when the lockout is over, let's focus on the needs we've got this year. Let's focus on the needs and what we need to bring in to make this team better."