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Hal: “189 is a real number, and we’re going to be shooting for it”

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Ever since the new CBA was announced, there has been plenty written and said about the Yankees desire to get below the $189-million luxury tax threshold in two years. This morning, Hal Steinbrenner confirmed all of those stories, saying he believes the Yankees can and should drop payroll the next two years.

“The 189 in two years is definitely a goal of ours,” Steinbrenner said. “We’re not too far off. We’re going to have a very similar payroll this year to last year, but I think we have a better team. Somewhat of an accomplishment I guess, on paper anyway. We’ll see. But yes, that 189 is a real number, and we’re going to be shooting for it.”

But why? The Yankees have paid the luxury tax in the past, why is now the time to lower payroll and try to fit beneath that ceiling?

“I’m a finance geek,” Steinbrenner said. “I guess I always have been. That’s my background. Budgets matter, and balance sheets matter. I just feel that if you do well on the player development side, and you have a good farm system, you don’t need a $220-million payroll. You don’t. You can field every bit as good a team with young talent. When you consider Banuelos and Betances and some of the pitching we have coming up with Nova and Hughes and Pineda, next year, when one of those two or both of those guys are up, we’re going to have the kind of young pitching, I don’t know when the last time was.

“… Luxury tax is an option. It’s a personal option. We do it. We go into it knowing exactly what we’re doing. Being the only team that does it, I’m just not convinced we need to be as high as we’ve been in the past to field a championship caliber team.”

Steinbrenner acknowledged that he stretched the budget to make room for Hiroki Kuroda this season, but he said a one-year deal is what made that possible. Hal has bent a time or two, but he’s still clearly more restrained than his father. So is $189 a requirement for 2014, or is it simply a goal?

“I’m looking at it as a goal,” Steinbrenner said. “But my goals are normally considered a requirement. Is it a requirement with baseball that we be at $189 (million)? No, it’s not a requirement. But that is going to be the luxury tax threshold and that’s where I want to be.”