Despite being criticized by both the media and the fans for failing to improve the team this winter, New York Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner is satisfied with the team's offseason moves and expects the Yankees to be a championship contender once again next season.
"No… The criticisms of the acquisitions does not bother me," said Steinbrenner, when asked if the negative reviews of the team's offseason have bothered him. "Does it bother me when we're portrayed as seeming like we haven't done anything in the offseason, when we've signed three of the four top free agents? Just because they happened to be with us last year, a lot of people assume that they're going to be back, and we're going to get them back. But it's not always easy. There were some other teams involved."
The Yankees decided not to match catcher Russell Martin's contract offer from the Pittsburgh Pirates and watched right fielder Nick Swisher sign with the Cleveland Indians, but did re-sign starters Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitte, closer Mariano Rivera, and outfielder Ichiro Suzuki. In addition to Swisher and Martin, reliever Rafael Soriano opted out of the final year of his contract with the Yankees to test the free agent market, eventually signing with the Washington Nationals.
Though the Yankees spent roughly $50 million to re-sign those four players and will once again have one of the highest payrolls in Major League Baseball next season, Hal and the entire Yankees front office has been accused of being "cheap" with their budget this winter, something Steinbrenner acknowledged.
"There was nothing cheap about Kuroda's contract or Pettitte's contract," Steinbrenner said. "Sometimes, I've got to scratch my head. But it is what it is."
In addition to re-signing some of their core veterans, the Yankees signed third baseman Kevin Youkilis and designated hitter Travis Hafner for a combined total of $14 million. Before the season starts, the Yankees could still acquire a right-handed hitting corner outfielder as well.
While the Yankees are always trying to build a contending team by any means necessary, the front office is also focused on lowering the team's payroll under the $189 million luxury tax threshold before the 2014 season, which has prevented the team from offering high-priced multi-year contract offers this offseason. Instead, the Yankees focused on aging veterans who were willing to sign one-year deals for a chance to play for a winning team, such as Youkilis and Hafner.
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