Steinbrenner talks retaining Girardi, re-signing Cano
Yankees managing general partner discusses state of club during radio interviews
NEW YORK -- Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said in a pair of wide-ranging radio interviews on Tuesday that the Yankees hope to retain manager Joe Girardi and second baseman Robinson Cano, but indicated the club is not prepared to offer a 10-year contract to Cano.
Steinbrenner said Girardi and the club agree that a quick resolution to their contract situation would be beneficial for both parties. No such speedy agreement is likely for Cano, who has reportedly requested a 10-year pact worth more than $300 million.
"I don't feel this organization is ready to do something like that," Steinbrenner said on ESPN New York 98.7 FM. "I know that is a number that is out there now. We'll see if he gets it, how much he wants to be in New York. But, again, I can promise it is going to be a very, very solid offer that we do make, because we are going to try. We are going to try the best we can to keep him."
The Yankees made Cano two substantial offers earlier this year before agreeing to table negotiations until after the season, according to The New York Times. Those offers were an eight-year, $138 million deal that was similar to David Wright's agreement with the Mets, and then a seven-year, $161 million proposal.
Speaking on WFAN, Steinbrenner acknowledged that Cano will reach free agency. He can officially become a free agent after the World Series.
"It sounds like he wants to go out and test the market, talk to whoever he needs or wants to talk to, and that's not unusual, of course," Steinbrenner said. "We want him back, he knows that, and within reason, we're going to do everything we can to make sure that happens. But time will tell."
Steinbrenner added he has spoken to Girardi on two occasions and "made it clear to him that we do want him back," adding, "My family thinks he did a great job this season given everything that happened."
Girardi reportedly is mulling a three-year contract offer worth approximately $12 to $15 million. He is under contract until Nov. 1, but could also draw interest from other clubs, including the Cubs and Nationals. It is not believed that the Yankees would grant Girardi permission to speak with other teams while he is under contract.
"I think we both agree, both sides agree, that it needs to be done quickly," Steinbrenner said on WFAN. "Quite frankly, we're going to be starting our baseball meetings, as we always do, soon, and we want the manager -- whoever that is, hopefully Joe -- to be a big part of them. Sooner rather than later, I think we'd both agree on that."
Steinbrenner said that while he was "disappointed" by the team's 85-win performance in 2013, the organization is continuing with its goal of reducing payroll below $189 million next season in order to take advantage of luxury-tax incentives, but only if it does not impact the on-field product.
"For several reasons, it's important, and it's certainly a goal that we take seriously and we're going to strive for," Steinbrenner said on WFAN. "As I've said before, on numerous occasions, it's not going to come at the expense of fielding a championship-caliber team. We know that's what we're expected to do and we're going to do it."
Steinbrenner said that Alex Rodriguez's 211-game suspension could assist the efforts to get below $189 million. If Rodriguez's appeal concludes with a suspension for the entire 2014 season, Rodriguez would lose approximately $25 million in salary.
"None of us know what's going to happen, of course, but if he's not with us, obviously that's a math factor that makes a difference," Steinbrenner said on WFAN. "At the same time, you've lost one of the best third basemen in baseball. There's a downside either way, I guess, is the way I would put it."
Steinbrenner also indicated the club is evaluating its player development system, as well as its medical and training programs from the Minor Leagues up. He said that he did not want to assume the team's rash of injuries was completely based upon coincidence, and is concerned by the farm system's inability to patch holes on the big league roster.
"We finally got a chance to really try to bring a lot of these players up and see how they could contribute. And it was not as good as we had hoped, I think that's fair to say," Steinbrenner said on WFAN. "But we started working two months ago, looking at everything having to do with player development, scouting, process, personnel, you name it. We're going to do what we need to do to make it better, I can assure you of that."