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Volume 25 No. 216
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Steinbrenner Scoffs At Suggestion Yankees Are Being Cheap

Ottavino's 3-year, $27M deal was one of several signings that pushed the Yankees over the tax threshold

Yankees Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner on Thursday sought to dismiss claims among fans and some media outlets the team is being cheap, a narrative amplified in recent weeks by top free agents Bryce Harper and Manny Machado still remaining unsigned. After indicating in November that potentially staying under the luxury tax threshold was still on his mind, Steinbrenner said recent moves for Ps Zack Britton and Adam Ottavino and 2B D.J. LeMahieu have pushed the club beyond the ’19 tax threshold of $206M in player payroll. “If there’s a narrative that we’re not spending money and being cheap, it’s just false,” Steinbrenner said. “I mean, we’re well above $200 million, we’re at $220 million right now, and we’re well above where we (were) last year. We did everything we wanted to do to really improve.” Steinbrenner indicated additional signings from the pool of remaining free agents were unlikely but not impossible. “I don’t think it’s ever done. I haven’t changed. If somebody comes to me with a suggestion or a proposal, I’m going to consider it right up until Opening Day or after.” Amid all of that, Steinbrenner acknowledged he will continue to hear fan criticism. “I get hammered every year about something. If you don’t win the World Series, that’s perfectly justifiable,” he said. Steinbrenner added fan discussions around the Yankees’ payroll typically ignores the club’s costs. “I hear everything about revenues, I hear nothing about our cost. I hear nothing about the gargantuan debt service that we have to pay ever year (on Yankee Stadium bonds), nothing about all our stadium operations, all the security, not to mention player payroll, not to mention revenue sharing,” he said.

QUIET ON YES NETWORK: Steinbrenner again reiterated his interest in the club regaining a larger equity stake in YES Network amid Disney’s pending resale of the Fox RSNs. However, he declined to detail where the Yankees are in the process. “We’re continuing to talk, continuing to make progress, but nothing’s been done yet. Fox has been good. We’ve had multiple conversations with them. I think everything’s going to work out. This was all a bit unexpected for us. A lot of people were surprised (at the resale of the RSNs). But the rights we have are the rights we have and we’re going to work through it. We’re exploring all options.”

TICKET SALES FLAT: Ticket sales for ’19 are roughly flat, Steinbrenner said, with part of that owing to a small number of 10-year premium seating contracts at Yankee Stadium that were not renewed. “Ticket sales are pretty much spot on to last year at this point,” he said. “We’re a little bit down because 10-year deals come up and some of those people live in different cities, who knows. But it’s very minor. ... Super Bowl’s over now. Spring Training’s getting ready to start. That’ll be the test.”