In a 2017 season in which expectations rose considerably after a strong start -- especially after being active leading up to the non-waiver Trade Deadline -- Steinbrenner's words echo a little louder. The Yankees were careful not to compromise their future at the Deadline, which is why they targeted starter Sonny Gray and relievers David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle, all of whom are under contractual control beyond 2017. But they also went after rentals in Todd Frazier and Jaime Garcia because of the capability of the current club. So there is more emphasis on a relatively slow start to August (6-8 as of Wednesday afternoon) than there would have been otherwise.
"It was a great first two and a half months [of the season]," Steinbrenner said. "It's been a tough last two months for the most part. But I think they're coming out of it and the pitching additions we made at the Deadline are already helping, and we're going to have a strong last five, six weeks."
Steinbrenner believes last year's stint on the sell side of the non-waiver Trade Deadline has given the Yankees the best of both worlds -- a strong system to go with a strong big league ballclub.
"The changes we did at the last Trade Deadline a year ago clearly [were] a difficult decision," Steinbrenner said. "But I made it, it was mine, and we got a lot of good players from it and we still stayed in contention until the last couple weeks. But we've been fortunate. The young guys we kept talking about for three, four years finally got to the point where they could contribute at the big league level. Other guys -- [international] signings like Estevan Florial -- have been good. So we've got a very good player development system right now, and we're competing. That's always a very good sign. And it's always tough to give up some of the top [prospects], but I wasn't going to do it for a rental. If you do it, you do it for a young guy that's under control for a year or two."
Young players are important currency for a Yankees team attempting to get under the luxury tax threshold in 2018. But with CC Sabathia's $25 million contract and some other contracts coming off the books, Steinbrenner said the Yankees could still be active this offseason.
"We can still go into the free-agent market," he said. "We'll just have to see who's ready [in the Minor League system] and who's not and how the team looks at X [payroll] number."