Joel Sherman of the New York Post sat down with Hal Steinbrenner to discuss the Yankees and their future plans, specifically with the $189 million payroll goal looming overhead. Sherman came away from the conversation believing that the Yankees "certainly believe they can squeeze into that Cano, Masahiro Tanaka, Brian McCann and a left side of the infield insurance policy such as Jhonny Peralta or Stephen Drew...", which would certainly make Yankees fans feel a little better about the teams' chances heading into next season. Whether those names were directly mentioned by Steinbrenner or assumed by Sherman isn't immediately clear, but putting that to paper sounds a lot more comforting than most of the fears surrounding the type of team the Yankees may field in 2014.
On the subject of Robinson Cano's next contract, Steinbrenner admitted that no player is worth signing at any cost. He believes that both sides would like for Cano to remain in pinstripes while acknowledging that it is a business, of course. If both sides have the same goal and the Yankees do not insult him with their offer and Cano does not get an offer from another team that he cannot refuse, it seems likely that the two sides can come to some sort of agreement that would bring the Yankees' best player back for another season and likely the rest of his career.
With Alex Rodriguez in the middle of suing seemingly everyone while he stands before an arbitrator to have his 211-game suspension reduced, the Yankees have to assume, until they know otherwise, that they will have to pay him what he is owed next season. You can bet that they are hoping that they hear sooner than later about what his final punishment will be so that they can attempt to allocate the available funds into a player to help them next season. As of now, they have to sit and wait before they can begin to figure out how much of the money owed to Rodriguez they will have to work with.
Steinbrenner also touched on the matter of the failures at the minor league level, saying that Brian Cashman was working to figure out if it was the fault of personnel or the fault of the process. The process can be changed if the personnel is retained, but the other option would involve making changes, likely in the form of firing one or both of Damon Oppenheimer and Mark Newman. He expected a final recommendation on the matter in the next 2-3 weeks.
When it comes to the doubt that he will spend the money necessary to build a contender, Steinbrenner cited the fact that he authorized more than $400 million to be spent to acquire the services of CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, and A.J. Burnett after the 2008 season. Hal admits that if Cashman presented a plan for next year that met the goal of $189 million but fell short of the goal of fielding a championship contender, he would abandon the former for the sake of the latter. There is a lot of money to be saved ($75-$100 million, according to Sherman's article) if the team does get under the luxury tax limit for next season to reset their repeat offender penalties, so it may all just be words that they'd abandon those savings for the sake of making the playoffs. However, maybe there is some part of the Steinbrenners that refuses to let the Yankee legacy be altered in the name of pinching pennies. That remains to be seen, but right now, Hal is saying all the right things to give Yankees fans a shred of hope for next season.