Yankees’ Steinbrenner irked by A’s and other low-spenders, says it’s ‘not good for the game’
NEW YORK - The New York Yankees’ Hal Steinbrenner says he’s open to other baseball owners’ consideration of proposing a salary cap for 2027, but only if small-market teams like the Oakland Athletics are subject to a payroll floor, too.
Major League Baseball owners are meeting in New York this week following renewed discussion of a potential salary cap and amid the possibility of the A’s relocating to Las Vegas. Oakland owner John Fisher is attempting to get $380 million in public funding from Nevada to construct a 30,000-seat ballpark in Las Vegas. The A’s began the day a big league-worst 18-50 and are averaging a big league-low 8,555 fans at Oakland Coliseum.
Players have long opposed any salary cap for fear it would curb overall spending on player contracts, and they would likely fight off a cap proposal through a work stoppage.
Steinbrenner’s support of a cap would depend on the figure, but he and the players agree over worries about small-market teams not investing enough in their major league rosters.
“Any time a team is putting out a product that’s not good for the industry as a whole, yes, I am absolutely concerned about that,” Steinbrenner said Tuesday at the start of three days of owners meetings. “I’ve always said that fans should not go to the first spring training game knowing that their team has no chance of making the playoffs. That’s just not good for the game. It’s not good for the industry.”
The Las Vegas stadium would have the smallest capacity in the major leagues and the A’s would move from the 10th-largest television market in the U.S. to the 40th, possibly putting the A’s in line to became a perennial revenue-sharing payee.
“It’s a very different market. It’s unique. There’s no doubt about it,” Steinbrenner said. “That would always be a concern. But let’s hear their case.”
Agent Scott Boras, reacting to Steinbrenner’s remarks, said “teams should not receive revenue sharing and general fund contributions unless they spend a minimum amount annually on players and further be required to spend a minimum amount over a three-year period.”
Oakland’s lease at the Coliseum runs through the 2024 season.
“Owners should demand that existing franchises cannot announce movement to another city unless they can immediately effectuate the move to that city the following season,” Boras said.
The Yankees opened the season with a $275 million payroll, second only to the record $355 million of the Mets. Oakland was last at $58 million and Tampa Bay, which has the major leagues’ best record, was 27th at $75 million.
“I understand some markets struggle more than others. I live in Tampa, so I know what the Rays go through,” Steinbrenner said. “What really gets me going in a negative way is owners that aren’t putting money into the team when they could. And it’s happened in the past. It probably happens every year to a certain extent. That’s what a lot of the owners like me don’t like.”
Steinbrenner’s luxury tax payroll, based on average annual values of contracts and including benefits, is right around the $293 million fourth threshold that triggers the steepest penalties. He is willing to take on additional payroll if needed as the Aug. 1 trade deadline approaches.
“This industry took a lot of hits the last few years, COVID and all, the losses we’ve had were unbelievably significant,” Steinbrenner said. “The losses we’ve had the last few years, that most teams if not all teams have had, it’s just not sustainable. It’s just not. So it’s easy to say, let’s have a $400 million payroll, but there’s no way to increase revenues.”
On other topics, Steinbrenner said:
- Yankees’ play amid a 38-29 start that has them third in the AL East: “We got to start hitting. We’re putting way too much pressure on the pitchers. And there’s several of our veterans that need to step up.”
- Missing Aaron Judge, sidelined because of a toe injury: “It’s been a two-week sample size and it hasn’t been promising.”
- DJ LeMahieu, hitting .236 with 21 RBIs: “It is concerning because he’s striking out a lot, which is very unlike him.”
- Rookie shortstop Anthony Volpe, batting .186: “Pitchers have adjusted to him and now he’s going to have some adjustments to make himself. ... I don’t think any of this is out of the ordinary. I told Anthony at the end of spring training, I said, ‘You were the starting shortstop of the New York Yankees. This isn’t a three-week trial. So you’re going to be that through the ups and through the potential downs. And there probably will be downs.’”
- General manager Brian Cashman and manager Aaron Boone: “End of the year, I’m going to reevaluate what we did, what we didn’t do and whose fault it is. That’s something I do every year.”
- A long-term deal for center fielder Harrison Bader: “If somebody comes to me and says, ‘Look, I really think we need to do this,’ yes, I will absolutely consider doing that. ... It really isn’t something we do very often, but he’s a special player.”
- Last summer’s trade for Frankie Montas, who has mostly been hurt: “I would do it again. Montas clearly so far hasn’t worked out. But for what we gave up, a couple of minor league pitchers, I would do that again.”
- On how his father, George Steinbrenner, would have criticized underperforming players: “I know he would have ... but I am not he.”