Hal talks payroll, free agency, Greenberg
Steinbrenner addresses several Yankees matters on radio
NEW YORK -- Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner took to the airwaves on Tuesday, telling a pair of New York radio stations that the team's payroll will remain approximately the same for the 2011 season.
Speaking both on WFAN and 1050 ESPN, Steinbrenner said that the Yankees absolutely want to re-sign Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, who officially became free agents at the conclusion of the World Series.
The Yankees are currently holding their end-of-season organizational meetings at the club's complex in Tampa, Fla., and the team appears to be planning to start 2011 near the estimated $206.3 million payroll they began this year with.
"I can safely say we're going to stay within the same level," Steinbrenner said on 1050 ESPN. "But I'm obviously not going to get into details. We know we're expected to field a championship caliber team and we're going to do what it takes to do that.
"So if we have to get creative in a trade, or if we have to go out for a big free agent, we're going to do it. We do have some money coming off."
Steinbrenner said that the Yankees have reached out to the representatives for Jeter and Rivera, but acknowledged there is a possibility that negotiations with Jeter in particular could take some time.
"Look, he's one of the greatest Yankees in history. No doubt about it," he told WFAN. "But at the same time, I'm running a business. I have responsibilities. [Co-chairman] Hank [Steinbrenner] and I are responsible to our partners, so on and so forth.
"We have to remain somewhat objective, and we're going to do that. I want to get a deal done that he's happy with but also that I'm happy with."
Not as outspoken as his late father George was during his 37 years in control of the Yankees, Steinbrenner was moved to the airwaves in response to comments made Monday by Rangers CEO Chuck Greenberg.
Greenberg said in a Dallas radio interview that "Yankees fans, frankly, were awful" during the ALCS games at Yankee Stadium, a remark he later apologized for by saying he had "unfairly and inaccurately disparaged" Yankees fans.
The Yankees learned of Greenberg's comments during their meetings, and Steinbrenner said the team informed Major League Baseball that they intended to aggressively respond but agreed to wait a day in deference to the World Series.
Steinbrenner said that he spoke with Greenberg later on Monday and believed his tone of apology to be sincere.
"He absolutely would be the first one to admit that they were stupid comments and inappropriate," Steinbrenner told 1050 ESPN. "He very much wanted to give a sincere apology. I said, 'That's good that you're apologizing to us, but you need to apologize to our fans. They're the ones you've wronged here.' And he did in that statement."
The Yankees could get the last laugh by chasing left-hander Cliff Lee, whom the Rangers very strongly hope to re-sign. Steinbrenner would not speak on specific players but said the Yankees would be active in free agency.
"What I can tell you is we're looking at the free-agent market every year, and there are always areas of improvement," Steinbrenner told 1050 ESPN, in response to a question about Lee. "The free-agent market is certainly a big thing we look at. We're going to have plenty to spend and we're going to enter into it."
Steinbrenner said that he is still disappointed by the Yankees' ALCS exit and reiterated that the team's first goal is to play in the World Series each year, making it difficult to appreciate 2010 as a success.
Asked to address the fan base, Steinbrenner concluded his WFAN interview by saying, "Thank you so much for your support. You are among the most loyal fans in the world. We believe you're the most loyal fans in the world.
"We commit to you right now that we're going to field a championship-caliber team. We're going to work very hard in the offseason and we're going to give you what you deserve."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.