Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner

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Hal Steinbrenner On Free Agency: I'm Never Done Until Opening Day

February 08, 2019 - 10:05 am
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By WFAN.com

Hal Steinbrenner on Thursday seemed to simultaneously keep the door open that the Yankees could sign Manny Machado or Bryce Harper while also throwing cold water on the idea.

Talking to reporters in Orlando, the Yankees' managing general partner said he wouldn't be surprised if the Bombers make another big acquisition. 

“Fans should keep an open mind that I’m never done until I’m done, and that’s usually not until Opening Day,” he said, according to the New York Post. “Proposals come to me every day with these guys, between the analytics guys and the pro scouting guys, and I’m going to consider every single one of them."

Yet Steinbrenner indicated he wants to maintain the financial flexibility to sign some of the Yankees' young stars to long-term contracts down the road.

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“I have to look at the big picture, and it is my responsibility that my family expects, my partners expect, not just to look at the present, but to look at the future, too," he said. "Three, four, five years from now, we’ve got a lot of homegrown kids that we love, that our fans love, that are going to be coming up for free agency. And that’s something I’ve got to keep in mind as well."

Perhaps Steinbrenner was giving fans a glimmer of hope that Machado or Harper are still in play only to satisfy Major League Baseball, which doesn't want teams to publicly state they're not considering free agents.

Steinbrenner took exception to criticism that he's being cheap by not having aggressively pursued Machado or Harper. Both of the offseason's prized free agents are still available, but the Yanks don't appear to seriously be in the mix for either.

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The Yankees have not exactly been quiet this offseason, acquiring pitchers James Paxton and Adam Ottavino and infielders DJ LeMahieu and Troy Tulowitzki.

“If there’s a narrative that we’re not spending money and being cheap, that’s just false,” Steinbrenner told a small group of reporters. “We’re above $200 million (in payroll). We’re at $220 (million) right now in (annual average value, which also includes pension and benefits). And we’re well above where we were last year (about $195 million). We did everything we wanted to do to really improve … the pitching. That’s what I wanted to improve. As far as I’m concerned, pitching was a big problem in the division series. More so than anything else.”