Hal Steinbrenner reluctant to spend more, values Aaron Judge’s opinion on team

Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner

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Since their playoff defeat to the Astros, the Yankees have spent more than $500 million to strengthen their team. Hal Steinbrenner is hesitant to spend more, as the Yankees stand close to the $293 million luxury-tax level.

The Yankees’ budget is just slightly lower than the Mets but ahead of the Padres in the MLB. On Wednesday at Steinbrenner Field, the Yankees owner signaled that the current payroll is enough to win the 2023 championship and the team doesn’t need more big contracts.

“A decade-plus ago, I always used to say that you shouldn’t have to have a $200 million payroll to win a championship, right? Because nobody had it,” Hal Steinbrenner said . “Times have changed, I will acknowledge that; so I will say that you shouldn’t have to have a $300 million payroll to win a world championship because nobody has, including Houston.”

As of Wednesday, the Yankees’ expected luxury-tax payroll for 2023 was $292,481,667, according to FanGraphs. If they surpass the $293 million tax threshold imposed this year in response to Mets owner Steve Cohen’s expenditures, they will be taxed at an 80 percent rate on every dollar spent beyond that amount.

Hal Steinbrenner with father George Steinbrenner

However, Hal Steinbrenner claimed that the total Yankees spending is exceeding the said figure and said:

“For all I know, we may be over it. Do I think we’re good enough to win a championship now? Yes, but we got to stay healthy.”

Hal Steinbrenner values Aaron Judge

Hal Steinbrenner enjoys his relationship with slugger Aaron Judge and acknowledges that he consults with the new captain on a variety of team-related concerns, including proposed modifications to the team’s spring training site. He recently picked Judge’s views on Anthony Volpe, the exciting youngster battling for the team’s shortstop position.

“Judge and I have a good relationship,” Hal Steinbrenner said. “I asked him about a lot of things. We’re getting ready to look at some renovations of [the spring training] stadium, he’s involved with that. Yes, I ask him about different players.”

The Yankees owner was interested in Volpe and sought Aaron Judge about the New Jersey native. Judge told him that Volpe “carries himself in a very professional way” and Hal Steinbrenner shared the same with the reporters.

Hal Steinbrenner with Aaron Judge

Owner reveals shortstop selection

Hal Steinbrenner is excited to watch Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza making their best efforts to be the team’s shortstop. Fans and the media are putting a lot of pressure on the team to give young people a chance. During the Yankees spring training, Peraza, Volpe, and Dominguez have all done great things.

Hal Steinbrenner said that the team’s staff would make a decision on the shortstop competition the next week. In the last few decades, there were instances when MLB franchises held back top prospects without promoting them to the big stage. But the Yankees owner said that the service time of the shortstop would not be a factor in the decision and the final decision is up to general manager Brian Cashman and manager Aaron Boone.

“But Volpe is clearly having a great spring,” said Hal Steinbrenner. “He’s shown, at least at this spring training stage, that he can handle it, play well, and do a lot of different things.”

The Yankees may have to choose between Peraza, who played in the major leagues for the first time last year, and Volpe, who has been one of the best players on the team this spring, hitting .321 with four doubles, two home runs, and three steals. Volpe, who is 21 years old and was picked 30th overall in the 2019 draft, has impressed the Yankees veterans. People in the organization think that Volpe has the mental strength to handle failure if struggles in the MLB, which is not unusual for a young player.

Hal Steinbrenner isn’t ready to say in public that either of the two young prospects is the Opening Day shortstop, but he is impressed with both of them. The owner said that the game on February 22 where “Volpe stole second and third base on consecutive pitches,” the first of which was a strikeout, was the one that caught his attention the most.

“It’s exciting for me, personally, because I’ve followed these kids for years,” Hal Steinbrenner said. “For me, it’s always exciting, particularly when it’s someone’s first spring training, like Volpe, that they perform and that they perform well, and that they impress guys like Judge, which is what they’re doing.”

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