Hal Steinbrenner plans to lower Yankees' payroll

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TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — New York Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner says it's his goal to lower the team's payroll to $189 million over the next few years.

Under baseball's new labor contract, the luxury tax threshold will be at $189 million after the 2013 season.

"Is it a requirement with baseball that we hit 189? No, it's not a requirement, but that is going to be the luxury tax threshold and that's where I want to be," Steinbrenner said on Thursday. "I don't think it's an unrealistic goal. My goals are normally considered a requirement."

Steinbrenner said this season's payroll is around $210 million. He feels the Yankees can be successful at a lower level with a strong player-development system.

The Yankees were hit with a $13.9 million luxury tax last season. New York's final 2011 payroll was $212.7 million.

"I'm just not convinced we need to be as high as we've been in the past to field a championship-caliber team," Steinbrenner said. "We'll see who comes off (salary-wise) in the next couple years."

New York has a number of promising prospects, including pitchers Dellin Betances and Manuel Banuelos.

"We'll see how these young kids perform towards the end of this year and into next year," Steinbrenner said. "The young kids are going to play a big part of being able to lower this payroll. I am going to need some of these young pitchers to step up."

Steinbrenner again reiterated that he's not planning to work on any in-season contract extensions.

"Right now I just want to get through this season before we talk to anybody," Steinbrenner said.

Steinbrenner gave his support to Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, who had a difficult personal offseason.

Cashman's wife filed divorce papers last month, a day after prosecutors charged a woman with stalking him and extorting money over an extramarital affair.

"I'm not going to get into personal situations of employees," Steinbrenner said. "It's not Yankee business. I can only say that we're here to support him."

As for the upcoming season, Steinbrenner is upbeat about the defending AL East champions.

"I'm excited," he said. "I think we've got, on paper, definitely a better team than we did last year. I think our starting pitching is improved, and that was one of our goals during the offseason."

New York has added starting pitchers Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda.

The Yankees open spring training play on Friday with an exhibition against the University of South Florida.

Notes: Spring training instructor Reggie Jackson arrived at camp. The Hall of Famer, who was late arriving last year after back surgery, had shoulder surgery this offseason. ... Lou Piniella, a new addition to the spring instructors' group this year, was also at the ballpark. ... 2B Robinson Cano rejoined the team after being gone three days after the death of his grandmother. ... Non-roster RHP Manny Delcarmen will miss four or five days because of a right lat muscle injury. ... The Yankees had an abbreviated workout Thursday to allow a team function away from the ballpark that involved improv skits.

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