Hal’s crying over Yankees payroll hints at big cuts; will it derail deal for Soto?

Aaron Judge, Juan Soto, and Alex Verdugo celebrate after the Yankees beat the Astros at Minute Maid Park on March 29, 2024.
Inna Zeyger
Thursday May 23, 2024

Table of Contents

Despite having the second-highest payroll in MLB and the anticipation of a record-breaking long-term deal with Juan Soto, New York Yankees principal owner Hal Steinbrenner believes the team’s current financial situation is unsustainable.

Speaking at the owners’ meeting in Manhattan on Wednesday, Steinbrenner expressed his concerns about the Yankees’ payroll, stating that the current levels are simply not sustainable for the team financially. He emphasized that this would be the case for the vast majority of ownership groups, given the luxury tax they are required to pay.

“I’m gonna be honest, payrolls at the levels we’re at right now are simply not sustainable for us financially,’’ Steinbrenner said, Via the New York Post. “It wouldn’t be sustainable for the vast majority of ownership [groups], given the luxury tax we have to pay.’’

According to Spotrac.com, the Yankees have a payroll of approximately $306 million this season, with $202 million already committed for the following year. They are second only to the New York Mets, who have a payroll of $311 million.

Steinbrenner’s comments on Wednesday are consistent with his statements at the end of the previous season when he suggested that while $300 million isn’t a hard threshold, he didn’t believe it was necessary to spend that much to achieve success on the field.

Will the Yankees’ cost-cutting derail Soto’s deal? No

New York Yankees’ Juan Soto smiles in the dugout after hitting a home run against the Seattle Mariners during the sixth inning of a baseball game Wednesday, May 22, 2024, in New York.
AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

The New York Yankees’ ability to retain Soto, the 25-year-old left-handed slugger who has been a perfect fit for the team this season, may be challenged by principal owner Steinbrenner’s reluctance to surpass the $300 million payroll threshold.

Soto, currently earning $31 million in the final year of his contract, is expected to command a significant deal in free agency, having previously rejected a 15-year, $440 million offer from the Washington Nationals in 2022.

Despite Steinbrenner’s openness to a mid-season extension, the Yankees should have ample financial flexibility to secure Soto’s long-term future with the club, given his tremendous performance and the organization’s belief that trading for him was the right decision.

Steinbrenner insisted that the Yankees’ current financial situation will not hinder their ability to afford Soto as he enters free agency for the first time this coming offseason. The owner explained that, unlike the previous offseason, a considerable amount of money will be coming off the Yankees’ books at the end of the 2024 season.

Steinbrenner attributed the team’s current payroll levels to the lack of substantial contracts expiring last offseason, stating that the upcoming financial flexibility will provide the Yankees with the necessary resources to address their roster needs and potentially secure Soto’s long-term future in pinstripes.

”We’ve got a considerable amount of money coming off,” he said. “We didn’t have a whole lot of money come off last offseason, which is why we’re at where we’re at.”

As the Yankees navigate the delicate balance between maintaining a competitive roster and managing their payroll, the question of Soto’s future with the club will remain a central focus for fans and the organization alike.

Where from the Yankees bring money for Soto’s salary

The New York Yankees are set to have a significant amount of money coming off their books at the end of the 2024 season, with several key players entering their walk year. This group includes Gleyber Torres, Alex Verdugo, Juan Soto, and Clay Holmes, as well as the expiring contracts of former Yankees Aaron Hicks and Josh Donaldson. The team also has the option to buy out Anthony Rizzo‘s contract after this season.


Torres, who is currently earning $14.2 million, may not return next year, but the Yankees will need to create additional financial space to accommodate Soto, who is making $31 million this season.

Rizzo’s contract includes a $17 million club option with a $6 million buyout, while Verdugo, another potential free agent, is making $8.7 million. Relief pitcher Clay Holmes is earning $6 million, and Tommy Kahnle is at $5.7 million.

Other relievers set to hit the market include Jonathan Loaisiga, Caleb Ferguson, Luke Weaver, and the injured Lou Trivino, collectively earning $8.4 million.

Ace pitcher Gerrit Cole has the option to opt-out after this season, but the Yankees can negate that by adding another year at $36 million to the end of his contract.

The Yankees' owner Hal Steinbrenner and Juan Soto

In total, the Yankees are expected to have more than $50 million coming off their books entering the offseason. However, principal owner Hal Steinbrenner has made it clear that he does not intend to replace all the money from this year’s payroll on next year’s docket, indicating a potential shift in the team’s spending strategy.

The New York Yankees’ payroll for this season exceeds $300 million, pushing them deep into luxury-tax territory. However, the team is set to shed almost $100 million in salary at the end of the season, clearing the way for a potential re-signing of star outfielder Juan Soto.

Despite the significant financial flexibility created by the expiring contracts, Yankees fans may question whether principal owner Hal Steinbrenner would be willing to address other roster needs if Soto is re-signed to a lucrative deal.

Steinbrenner reaffirmed his commitment to making a historic sales pitch to retain Soto, indicating that he is prepared to offer the slugger a contract that would exceed the nine-year, $360 million deal signed by Aaron Judge, making Soto the highest-paid Yankee.

The owner expressed confidence in Soto’s ability to perform in New York, stating that he had no doubts about the outfielder’s capacity to handle the market and the pressure. Steinbrenner’s primary concerns revolved around Soto’s interactions with fans, media, and teammates, and he has been pleased with the young star’s performance in all three aspects.

A big Yankees change likely

Yankees rookies Jasson Dominguez and Anthony Volpe are in a playful mood during a practice season in September 2023.

The New York Yankees are projected to enter the offseason with a $202.4 million payroll, according to Spotrac. However, the final payroll figure for the 2025 season remains uncertain, and this may be the last year the Yankees spend up to $300 million.

Principal owner Hal Steinbrenner hinted at a potential cut that could see the departure of many veteran players. He reiterated his belief that a $300 million payroll is not necessary to win a championship, emphasizing the importance of having a good mix of veterans and young talent developed through the team’s player development system.

Steinbrenner expressed confidence in the Yankees’ player development system, which he believes is now one of the best in baseball after significant investments over the past 5-10 years.

The question remains whether the Yankees will have sufficient funds for another significant addition to the roster. The answer is likely no, but the organization is optimistic about the potential of young talents such as Anthony Volpe and Jasson Dominguez, who can fill roster spots at a reasonable cost.

The New York Yankees are likely to part ways with second baseman Gleyber Torres, who will be eligible for free agency this winter. Instead of retaining Torres, the team is expected to rely on the growing number of homegrown talents who have come through the Yankees’ farm system and are currently making an impact at the major league level.

Hal Steinbrenner expressed his belief in the next generation of Yankees players, stating that they will continue to receive opportunities, just as Anthony Volpe, Austin Wells, Luis Gil, and others have.

Steinbrenner also suggested that having a younger roster could potentially make the team faster and less prone to injuries, although he acknowledged that this belief may or may not be accurate. Regardless, he emphasized that the upcoming wave of young talent will be given ample opportunities to prove themselves on the big stage.

What do you think? Leave your comment below.

Related posts:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join the Pinstripes Nation!

Your Daily Dose of Yankees Magic Delivered to Your Inbox

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Don't Miss Any of the Latest Yankees News, Rumors, and Exclusive Offers!