For the second time in three weeks, Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner said he is willing to increase the team’s payroll to acquire a stud pitcher if the right deal can be found before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
Steinbrenner, speaking during an interview on YES Network that aired Tuesday night, said: “I would have to see where we are, who the person is, how badly that position needs help, so to speak, but I will say we have a considerable amount of money to spend and I’m not averse to spending it.”
The Yankees still plan to stay under the luxury-tax threshold even as they search for arms. Steinbrenner said that can be done.
“We’ve got some options there, flexibility,” said Steinbrenner, who made similar comments at the owners’ meetings in mid-June.
Staying under the threshold will allow the Yankees to pay significantly less in luxury tax next season, which could beget a massive spending spree in a free-agent class that will include stars such as Manny Machado and Bryce Harper.
But the Yankees aren’t focused on the offseason. They smell a 28th World Series trophy and general manager Brian Cashman is burning up the phone lines trying to land one or two upgrades in the rotation.
Masahiro Tanaka is scheduled to make a rehab start for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Wednesday. If all goes well, he could rejoin the rotation next week.
Domingo German started against Atlanta on Tuesday, the second start in a row by a Yankees rookie righthander. Jonathan Loaisiga lasted four innings in Monday’s 5-3, 11-inning loss to the Braves and was sent back to Triple-A after the game.
German threw 4 1⁄3 scoreless innings on Tuesday and was humming along with a 6-0 lead before Ender Inciarte hit a two-run homer and Ozzie Albies homered on the next pitch. Two singles followed and German was gone.
The Yankees like the potential they see from Loaisiga and German, but a veteran arm could bring more stability for the stretch run. One or both of those pitchers could be packaged with prospects in a deal for a more experienced starter.
“There’s no doubt that I have always been slightly averse to letting these young players go,” Steinbrenner said. “But we’ve done it. You’ve got to do it. We’re just fortunate enough to have a rich, robust farm system to do it from. We’ll look at all options and nothing’s a no and nothing’s a yes right now. We’ve got some time, but it’s not an easy thing to do.”
The Yankees entered Tuesday one game behind AL East-leading Boston. The two storied rivals are gearing up for a fight to the finish that should determine the division champion and one AL wild card.
“I think we’ve done well,” Steinbrenner said. “We’ve had some key injuries. Obviously, Tanaka missed a month. [Jordan] Montgomery out for the year. But the team keeps winning, keeps producing runs. The young kids keep coming up and contributing and helping out. Obviously, we’re right there, tied atop the division. It’s a two-man fight right now, so to speak, and no one else around. It’s going to be an interesting deal.”
Especially if they make a deal.
Gleyber sits. Gleyber Torres did not start because of stiffness in his right hip flexor. Boone said the rookie felt the issue on Monday night but felt “really well” on Tuesday. Still, Boone started Neil Walker at second base in place of Torres, who went 3-for-4 with a walk on Monday . . . Brandon Drury got the nod at first base over Greg Bird against lefthander Sean Newcomb.