Hal Steinbrenner, the president of Cashman Sports and Entertainment Group, talked with ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick about free agency during a roundtable discussion in Las Vegas. He also briefly discussed Aaron Boone (the Yankees’ new manager), his relationship with Brian Cashman (GM) and the team’s future.
The “Yankees” is a professional baseball team based in New York City. The Yankees are owned by the Hal Steinbrenner family.
8:41 p.m. Eastern
ESPN’s Jeff Passan
- MLB insider on ESPN
- Author of “The Arm: Inside the Billion-Dollar Mystery of Sports’ Most Valuable Commodity,” “The Arm: Inside the Billion-Dollar Mystery of Sports’ Most Valuable Commodity”
CHICAGO (WLS) — New York Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner stated Wednesday that the organization would “not be frightened to enter into the free-agent market,” and that the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing controversy will not prevent the Yankees from chasing Carlos Correa, the best available talent.
Steinbrenner observed, “He’s clearly a wonderful talent.” “And, look, I believe that the majority of people have moved on from it. I mean, I believe it is better to move on from things like that rather than stew on them year after year. People, on the other hand, have their own opinions on that specific athlete. But, in general, we’ll consider all of the possibilities. Every year, we do the same thing.”
Steinbrenner hailed newly re-signed Aaron Boone “one of the finest managers in baseball” and claimed Brian Cashman, who is in the last year of his deal, is “one of the top general managers in the game” in a wide-ranging conversation with media at the owners’ meetings. The Yankees will utilize free agency and trades to “make adjustments and attempt to accomplish what we do every year, which is to produce a squad that can win a championship,” according to Steinbrenner, after a “disappointing year” that culminated with a wild-card game defeat to Boston.
As the market develops, it will be interesting to see whether that includes Correa, the 27-year-old shortstop who is projected to seek the highest deal in a deep free-agent class. With the Yankees intent on replacing Gleyber Torres at shortstop, Correa, Javier Baez, Corey Seager, Marcus Semien, and Trevor Story comprise the best-ever free-agent class of shortstops.
The Yankees are very likely to surpass the luxury-tax threshold — whatever it is in a new collective-bargaining agreement — with salary commitments already at $222 million before making a serious move this offseason, according to Steinbrenner.
Before restructuring their roster, the Yankees re-signed Boone to a three-year agreement. Boone has a 328-218 record as manager of the Yankees, including a 92-70 record last season. “It wasn’t a difficult choice for me,” Steinbrenner said of the transaction.
Steinbrenner endorsed Cashman, who has been the Yankees’ general manager since 1998, while declaring “I’m not even thinking about” a prospective contract extension, citing the team’s history. At the same time, he cited a new performance lab at the team’s facilities in Tampa, Florida, as evidence of the team’s evolution under Cashman.
“On a daily level, I am directly engaged,” Steinbrenner remarked. “And if we’re simply stuck in our thinking, stuck in the way we approach issues and solutions, stuck in the way we make choices, that would be a major worry for me. Brian, on the other hand, has been fantastic at flowing with the flow of what’s going on in the business, what other teams are doing, and what other things we’re doing inside. It’s the stagnation that bothers me, not the fact that someone has been here for 20 years or more.”
Steinbrenner went on to say: “He has a reputation for being very analytical. It’s only that this isn’t true. Some teams are stronger than others. However, analytics is data. So I don’t believe there is a CEO in the nation who doesn’t want to have as much information as possible when making judgments. So, it’s almost as though it’s a terrible term at times, it seems. It is, nevertheless, information. To put it another way, the more knowledge you have, the more equipped you are to make a choice. That’s how I’ve always viewed things, and he agrees.”
Steinbrenner also discussed a slew of other topics, including:
• Aaron Judge, the All-Star outfielder who will be a free agent following the 2022 season: “He’s a fantastic New Yorker. He’s one of the franchise’s faces, and he’s a fantastic leader and clubhouse presence. So it’s something I’m ready to discuss with Cash, but nothing has been formalized yet.”
• All-Star outfielder Joey Gallo, who was acquired from Texas at the trade deadline and hit.160/.303/.404 for the Yankees: “Do I wish he’d done a little better? Without a doubt. But I’m unconcerned. Next year, keep an eye on him.”
• Gerrit Cole, the ace pitcher who faltered late in the season and lost the wild-card game: “Do I have any concerns? No. He’s an exceptional athlete with exceptional tools.”
• Prospects for shortstop The existence of Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza might inspire the Yankees to sign a shortstop who is more likely to go to third base: “It’s possible that in two years they’ll be the middle of our infield — or the middle of any team’s infield for that matter. They have a lot of skill. We’re really looking forward to it.”
About the chances of a deal, Steinbrenner, who sits on the influential labor policy committee aiming to negotiate a new collective-bargaining agreement with the MLB Players Association before its Dec. 1 expiry, said: “We have two weeks off. And, as previously said, meetings are ongoing. There is a lot of discussion going on.”
Earlier negotiations included an MLB plan that featured a $100 million salary floor and a lower luxury-tax threshold, which might have resulted in more severe financial consequences for clubs like the Yankees who often violate it.
“On labor policy, all I can tell you is there are seven of us,” Steinbrenner stated. “Boston, a few mid-markets, and a number of tiny towns. We’re a varied bunch of people. And when we presented the union with a plan that included CBT and a luxury tax, it was a unanimous — on our committee — a unanimous agreement. And every owner on the committee agreed that there were certain aspects of the idea that they did not agree with. Each and every proprietor. However, we wanted to put together a plan that addressed their concerns, and we wanted to do it as a group. That is exactly what we did. But what about specifics? Nothing in this world is ever going to be flawless. In every situation.”
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