Randy Levine doesn’t see much in the way of separation between the Yankees and their greatest rivals, who won 119 games and the 2018 World Series.
The Yankees president doesn’t see any, in fact.
“I think we’re as good as the Red Sox right now,” Levine said Tuesday morning after a Stadium news conference publicizing the Wisconsin-Miami Pinstripe Bowl. “I think they had a better postseason than us. We had a lot of injuries and [I’ve] said that division series could have gone either way with a couple of innings.”
The Red Sox went a franchise-record 108-54 before beating the Yankees in four games in the ALDS. The Yankees, after a 6-2 victory in Game 2 evened the series, lost Game 3, 16-1. Then their ninth-inning rally, in which Gary Sanchez just missed what would have been a walk-off grand slam, came up short in a 4-3 loss in Game 4. The Yankees did go 9-10 against Boston during the regular season.
“They have a great team and they’re going to be a really great team for a long time,” Levine said. “But I think we’re as good as they are.”
Which doesn’t mean the Yankees are done making moves this winter after bringing back Brett Gardner and CC Sabathia and acquiring lefthander James Paxton from the everything-must-go Mariners.
The Yankees are still looking to add at least one and perhaps two more starters. They took a hit later Tuesday when lefthander Patrick Corbin, whom they prioritized signing, reportedly agreed to a six-year, $140-million deal with the Nationals.
The club will pivot, but in which direction is not clear and to what degree financially is also unknown.
The Yankees last season achieved managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner’s long-desired goal of bringing payroll under the luxury-tax threshold, which in 2018 was $197 million. That figure goes to $206 million this season, a number Levine said Steinbrenner would prefer to stay under again to avoid paying the luxury tax, but not in absolute terms.
“I think Hal has spoken many times to say that 200 million dollars is enough for a championship team, but there’s no question the Steinbrenners have demonstrated for many years that they will invest in the team to build a championship team,” Levine said. "There’s no doubt if Cash and his baseball people come to him and say, 'We need this one piece that we feel really great about [making us] a championship team,' Hal will give it great consideration even if it goes over the threshold …
"We’re about winning championships here.”