A.J. Pierzynski White Sox Foul Territory Screengrab: ‘Foul Territory’ on YouTube

Hal Steinbrenner’s comments about the New York Yankees payroll could not come at a worse time. This team has built up a lot of goodwill with its dynamic starting pitching and the addition of Juan Soto, who’s set to become a free agent after this season. While Soto will undoubtedly command the richest contract in MLB history, it begs the question of why the Yankees owner would comment that the team’s payroll is not sustainable.

Here’s more of those comments via The Athletic:

“What I always say to you guys like a broken record: I don’t believe I should have to have a $300 million payroll to win a championship,” Steinbrenner said.

“Look, I’m gonna be honest, payrolls at levels we’re at right now are simply not sustainable for us financially,” Steinbrenner said. “They wouldn’t be sustainable for the vast majority of owners, given the luxury tax we have to pay. We have a considerable amount of money coming off. We didn’t have a whole lot of money coming off last offseason, which is why we’re at where we’re at.”

“I believe I need a good mix of veterans who are going to have a lot more money, but also, we put a lot of money into our player development system in the last five to 10 years,” Steinbrenner said. “In my opinion, we have one of the better ones in baseball now. You can see the young players we’re producing. As they’re ready, they’re going to get their chances, just like (Anthony) Volpe did, Austin Wells, (Luis) Gil and others. I do believe being younger makes you faster. I also believe, whether I’m right or not, it makes you less injury-prone. We finally have a really good player development system with a lot of guys still coming. They’re gonna get opportunities.”

Those comments didn’t go over well with Foul Territory’s A.J. Pierzynski, who took aim at the New York Yankees’ principal owner.

“If it’s so hard and you’re not making any money and this and that…sell the damn team, Hal,” Pierzynski said. “George would roll over in his grave right now. Sell (a portion of the team) for $3 billion and let someone else run it then. I don’t know. I hate this. ‘Oh, we are not making any money.’ The Yankees sell out every game. They’ve got a billion luxury seats. They have a great TV deal because they also own the TV network, so they get a huge chunk of that. There’s nothing to — yeah, they held back for two years so they could get under the luxury tax. And then, they go and do it and get Juan Soto.

“This is just the preemptive strike on, ‘Oh, we weren’t able to sign Juan because of the payroll.’ This is it. So, it’s already started. It’s May 23rd, and Hal Steinbrenner said this yesterday, May 22nd. So, Yankees fans, I’m sorry, but this is the preemptive strike to ‘We can’t afford Juan Soto.'”

Pierzynski certainly has a point. And so did Ken Rosenthal.

“My takeaway was along the lines of an owner essentially crying poor, who has the richest team,” said Rosenthal. “That’s a hard swallow for a lot of people…I undertsand what Hal Steinbrenner is saying. You don’t want the payroll in his mind to be $350 or $400, but for the Yankees to say they can’t sustain it… open your books, prove you can’t sustain it, because I don’t believe that for a second.

Ir remains to be seen if Steinbrenner was actually talking out of both sides of his mouth or if he was laying the foundation to inform the public that resigning Soto is outside of New York’s comfortably as far as a flexible payroll is concerned.

[The Athletic, Foul Territory]

About Sam Neumann

Since the beginning of 2023, Sam has been a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. A 2021 graduate of Temple University, Sam is a Charlotte native, who currently calls Greenville, South Carolina his home. He also has a love/hate relationship with the New York Mets and Jets.