Offseason Yankees splashes show Hal recapturing his father’s magic

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Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner is often questioned for falling short of following in the footsteps of his illustrious father George Steinbrenner, who was known for his courageous decisions to sign big names. However, the Juan Soto trade and the quest to sign Yoshinobu Yamamoto prove that he is the rightful heir to his father.

The many differences between father, known as “The Boss,” and son have been a frequent topic of discussion among Yankees fans, particularly since George’s passing on July 13, 2010, at the age of 80.

Some of these distinctions include Hal’s less aggressive pursuit of every prominent free agent entering the market, as evidenced by the recent star shortstop class featuring Carlos Correa and Trea Turner. The wisdom of this Yankees approach will be revealed over time through Anthony Volpe’s development.

Hal has also consciously avoided the impulsive reactions that characterized The Boss’s ownership style in response to failure, whether real or perceived. Unlike the frequent firings under his father’s Yankees leadership, Hal’s approach aims to foster a work environment that enhances job performance, albeit without the organizational dysfunction associated with abrupt personnel changes.

Hal Steinbrenner with father George Steinbrenner

However, it doesn’t imply that everything is flawless in this aspect.

The discontent, notably among skilled individuals toward the influential analytics wing of the Yankees shaping many of the franchise’s decisions, has been growing consistently over the years. Unfortunately, Hal has overlooked addressing this issue for an extended period, although some subtle indications during this offseason suggest a potential shift in approach.

Yankees owner shows the character of The Boss

The recent addition of three-time All-Star Juan Soto this week undoubtedly mirrors The Boss’s approach. George Steinbrenner consistently emphasized his conviction that the Yankees should feature “stars” in their uniforms, and Hal has similarly emphasized the significance of having “marquee” names proudly wearing the pinstripes.

According to long-time member of the organization and current general manager Brian Cashman, who has been associated with the team since his days as an intern in 1986, he described the acquisition as another reflection of the Steinbrenner legacy. He emphasized George Steinbrenner’s belief that the New York Yankees should attract the world’s best players. Cashman acknowledged that the efforts to uphold this legacy have been continued by Hal Steinbrenner along with sisters Jenny and Jessica, with Juan Soto being the most recent example of this endeavor.

The trade came at the expense of several young players—a departure from Hal’s usual reluctance to part with prospects, a trait less evident in George. Additionally, the acquisition added Soto’s $33 million salary to the 2024 payroll, which is projected to exceed $300 million.

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AP Photo/Kathy Willens

The Yankees are currently in the running for Japanese right-hander Yoshinobu Yamamoto, with a meeting scheduled early this week. Rumors suggest the pitcher is intrigued by the prospect of playing for the Yankees. With other big-market teams like the Mets and Dodgers expressing interest, it’s speculated that Yamamoto’s final contract could reach or even surpass $300 million.

Before the Soto deal was finalized, Cashman refrained from disclosing the specific payroll Steinbrenner approved for the upcoming season. However, he did mention that the owner is permitting him to present the club in the best possible light in the pursuit of Yamamoto.

The Yankees GM mentioned that the player was of interest to them and indicated their intention to compete for his acquisition, awaiting the outcome. He also noted being in search of additional starter depth and relief assistance in the market.

Hal is willing to spend now

Steinbrenner conveyed in November that the necessity of a $300 million payroll to win a world championship was unnecessary. This sentiment echoed a line he had been expressing since at least 2013, stating, “I shouldn’t have to have a $200 million payroll to win a world championship.”

However, Steinbrenner, in the pursuit of the Yankees’ first World Series appearance since 2009, consistently pushed the payroll to or beyond $200 million, despite his comments over a decade ago. It seems that the $300 million mark in 2024 will be surpassed, contrary to what he publicly stated about such payroll figures.

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It’s crucial to recognize that Hal will never be mistaken for his father, who, even in death, holds a near-mythical sway over the fan base. The years of playoff Yankees drought and overall organizational turmoil under George Steinbrenner have been overshadowed by the World Series victories in 1977 and ’78, along with four more titles secured between 1996 and 2000.

There are numerous distinctions rather than parallels between the two Yankees owners. Individuals who have either worked for or interacted with both individuals assert that it wasn’t solely the father who possessed a strong drive to succeed, even though Hal occasionally appears insensitive in public regarding the fans and their discontent.

The Boss would likely not have hesitated at a $300 million payroll following the humiliating season the Yankees recently underwent. Hal Steinbrenner isn’t hesitating either.

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