Just two days after Yankees manager Aaron Boone said he thought the club's 2019 roster was set, owner Hal Steinbrenner left the door ajar for a major acquisition.
As remote as the possibility may be, Steinbrenner on Thursday did not rule out the Yankees adding another marquee player -- such as Bryce Harper or Manny Machado -- before the season begins, and he wouldn't be surprised if he shelled out a huge contract sometime soon.
"I wouldn't be surprised because these guys come to me all the time with stuff. I can't tell you if 17 days from now, they come with some kind of proposal that I say no or I say yes. I just can't tell you that right here on February whatever it is," Steinbrenner said in Orlando at the owners' meetings, according to Newsday.
Harper and Machado remain free agents with spring training commencing next week. The longer they remain unsigned, the louder the groans might become from fans wanting the Yankees to make a big splash to get them over the top.
Whether they do or not, Steinbrenner wants everyone to know that the Yankees aren't cheap.
"If there's a narrative that we're not spending money and being cheap, it's just false," he said. "I mean, we're well above $200 million (in payroll) - we're at $220 (million) right now - and we're well above where we were last year. We did everything we wanted to do to really improve, again, the pitching, because that's where I wanted improvement because as far as I'm concerned pitching was a big problem in the Division Series, more so than anything else."
At the Thurman Munson Awards Dinner on Tuesday, Boone said he thought the Yankees' roster "is pretty much set." Perhaps it's not.
"I don't think it's ever done," Steinbrenner said of his roster. "Look, if somebody comes -- I haven't changed -- I mean if somebody comes to me with a suggestion or a proposal, I'm going to seriously consider it right up until Opening Day or after. That's part of my leave-no-stone-unturned (policy), right? But I'm excited about the roster. I think we've definitely got a better club Opening Day than we did Opening Day last year, particularly in pitching, which was my biggest area of concern."
The Yankees acquired LHP James Paxton from the Mariners and re-signed lefties CC Sabathia and J.A. Happ. They also bolstered their bullpen by signing RHP Adam Ottavino and re-signing Zack (formerly Zach) Britton.
There were some concerns regarding Machado after he told The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal that he's not going to be "Johnny Hustle," but Steinbrenner said the Yankees came away with a good impression of Machado after the team met with him.
"Everybody thought he was great," Steinbrenner said. "Very down-to-earth, intelligent. Everybody loved his wife. She was great. My people have been around long enough that I have implicit trust in them and when Cashman and Randy tell me he's a very good kid, then I'm going to believe them."