Hal Steinbrenner could be flexible about $189M payroll in 2014

Yankees executive vice president Hal Steinbrenner speaks during

Yankees executive vice president Hal Steinbrenner speaks during a news conference in New York. (Credit: AP, 2008)

Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner said Thursday that getting the team's payroll under $189 million by next season is "our goal," but he also gave himself a little wiggle room if he decides to spend more.

"Is our goal 189 next year? Yes," Steinbrenner told reporters from The Wall Street Journal and New York Post at the owners' meetings in Paradise Valley, Ariz. "But only if I'm convinced that the team I see we put together is a championship-caliber team."

Steinbrenner wants to get under $189 million by 2014 because a new, onerous luxury-tax system kicks in that will cost the Yankees millions if they're not under that figure. And, he says, also because he's realized you don't have to have the largest payroll in baseball to win the World Series.

"How many World Series-winning teams the last 10 years had a payroll over 189?" Steinbrenner said. "One. You don't have to have a $200-million payroll to do that. And I'm a big believer in that. But you've got to have a good mix of veterans and young talent . . . If the young players, the [David] Phelps of the world, who did step up, continue to do that and some of the other guys like [Manny] Banuelos, [Michael] Pineda we've yet to see, if they get the job done, the math works."

About this year's squad, Steinbrenner said: "We've got some work to do still. We need another bat. We're not done yet."

Steinbrenner said he had no plans to discuss contract extensions with manager Joe Girardi and second baseman Robinson Cano, both of whom will go into spring training next month in the last year of their contracts.

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