Yankees’ Hal Steinbrenner hints at big-budget free agency this offseason

Alexander Wilson
aaron judge, yankees
Sep 27, 2022; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Yankees center fielder Aaron Judge (99) celebrates in the dugout with team mates after scoring against the Toronto Blue Jays in the third inning at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees have a ton of money coming off the books this off-season, with Aroldis Chapman, Zack Britton, Joey Gallo, and other smaller players clearing a substantial amount of salary.

In fact, the Yankees have a projected $198.5 total payroll after extending Anthony Rizzo on a three-year deal that includes a player option for the third season.

Rizzo will earn $17 million per year with a team option buyout for $6 million in year three, retaining one of their most important infielders. Now, they turn their attention to Aaron Judge, who owner Hal Steinbrenner is incredibly confident the team will retain in the coming weeks.

In fact, Steinbrenner hinted at a big budget off-season that indicated the Yankees will continue spending on other players while negotiating with Judge’s representatives. Clearly, extending Rizzo before Judge was a statement move, indicating the Bombers aren’t waiting around for Aaron to make a decision.

“My budget for Judge is going to be what I feel we can do. It’s not limitless, obviously. But am I going to make moves before we’re able to — in my opinion, we’re going to be able to sign Aaron. That’s not going to stop me from signing other people.”

The Yankees are connected to several big-name free agents:

The Bombers have been connected to a myriad of players up to this point, notably Justin Verlander and even Brandon Nimmo on Tuesday afternoon, per SNY. Verlander, at 39 years old, is looking for a new deal after opting out of the second year of his two-year contract with the Houston Astros.

Verlander is coming off a Cy Young-caliber campaign, indicating he could get a nice pay increase on a short-term deal. If the Yanks want to put together arguably the best starting rotation in baseball, adding Verlander might not be a bad move.

The Yankees have about $66 million remaining if they want to settle around their 2022 active total payroll of $265 million. However, Steinbrenner may be willing to push beyond the next luxury tax threshold and piece together a truly dominant team.

Adding Judge, Verlander, and a few other key pieces would certainly be a step in the right direction. If they manage to offload Josh Donaldson and Aaron Hicks, they can save a pretty penny in that scenario as well.

General manager Brian Cashman will have his hands full this off-season, but Hal seems to be willing to put his money where his mouth is, and he’s been rather confident the team will be making substantial upgrades.