Steinbrenner met with Richter and says, “We have a good cause”

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New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge runs onto the field during player introductions prior to Game 3 of an American League Championship baseball series against the Houston Astros Saturday, October 22, 2022 in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

AP

Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner held a one-on-one meeting with Aaron Judge to make sure the star free-agent slugger knows how badly New York wants him back.

“I think he wants to be a Yankee. I think we have a good thing going here,” Steinbrenner said Tuesday during a 30-minute question-and-answer session with reporters at the Major League Baseball owners’ meeting.

The judge rejected a pre-opening-day bid from the Yankees that would have been worth $213.5 million from 2023-29. Steinbrenner said he agreed with general manager Brian Cashman to make the offer public because he thought it would leak.

Steinbrenner says other commitments won’t hold the Yankees back in talks with Judge.

“We know where we are and I can tell you it won’t stop us,” he said.

Judge set an American League record with 62 home runs and took the Major League lead with 131 RBIs. The likely AL MVP, he said he prefers to stay with the Yankees.

Steinbrenner met alone with Judge and was involved in two or three other meetings with the right fielder, which included others.

“I wanted him to know how I felt if there were any – what’s the word I’m looking for? – if there’s a lack of clarity on his part – ambiguity,” Steinbrenner said.

Steinbrenner was speaking before it was revealed that first baseman Anthony Rizzo had agreed to a two-year, $40 million contract, pending a successful physical.

In other messages he said:

– Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza will get a chance to earn field service jobs during spring training.

— Cashman’s new contract is “only semantics at this point. I told him I wanted him back,” Steinbrenner said. “It’s all about the salary”

Judge could captain the Yankees if he stays in the Bronx. Steinbrenner said he sees Judge as one in a line of all-time Yankees greats like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra and Derek Jeter.

“People are attracted to him. The young players are attracted to him. And of course our fans, very important for our fans, the fan community and very important for my family and the organization,” Steinbrenner said of his life. There is no doubt about that. He knows it. The rest is up to him and his family and where they want to go from here. But we will do what we can, I can assure you.”

While there is no firm schedule for talks, other negotiations will have an impact.

“I won’t be in the position and can’t be in the position to see players start coming off the board, trades start being made,” Steinbrenner said. “And he understands that.”

New York has not made the World Series since winning the title in 2009, and Steinbrenner admitted fans were frustrated by the Houston Astros’ four-game win of the AL Championship Series.

“We’re not proud of it and we’re not happy about it,” Steinbrenner said.

He said the team turned to players who sometimes didn’t rush, like when Gleyber Torres didn’t run out balls and Josh Donaldson thought a drive down the right field line was a home run just to beat Cleveland in the division row.

“The fandom expects the Yankees to behave a certain way and I’m sure it upsets them when something like that happens,” Steinbrenner said. “It’s addressed immediately Aaron Boone, Cashman and I if I need to get involved.”

New York has struggled to improve its defense this past offseason, and while it’s been noticeably sharper, Steinbrenner admitted “it wasn’t as good in the postseason as I would have liked to have seen.”

As Judge drew interest, the Yankees attracted 3.1 million fans, up from 3.3 million last season before COVID-19.

“We’re really almost back to the 19 level, which I think is a great achievement,” said Steinbrenner. “But season tickets will still be a question of whether people are still worried about COVID.”

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This story was originally published Nov 15, 2022 3:04 p.m.

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