TAMPA, Fla. — Hal Steinbrenner, the Yankees’ managing general partner, praised the work of Joe Girardi on Wednesday, but he said that any talk of a new contract for his manager — whose four-year, $16 million contract expires this year — would not take place until the end of the season.
“We love Joe,” said Steinbrenner, who spoke to a group of reporters outside the Yankees’ clubhouse after meeting with Girardi on Wednesday afternoon. “Look, Joe is one of many people in this organization that have contracts, and I treat them all the same. We just have too many other things to focus on. He knows that.”
Steinbrenner added, “I’m sure we’ll be talking maybe toward the end of the year, but right now, there’s a lot more things to be worried about.”
The Yankees have on occasion offered contract extensions to players — to C. C. Sabathia just before he could have opted out in 2012 and to Brett Gardner before 2015, and an offer to Aroldis Chapman last summer that was declined — but they have mostly been content to let contracts expire.
Girardi, who is entering his 10th season with the team, said Tuesday that he “would not seek any clarity” from Steinbrenner about his status. Girardi signed his last contract after the 2013 season — a time when it seemed as if there were reasons to leave. The Chicago Cubs, the team he came up with, had a managerial opening, and the Yankees had missed the playoffs and seemed to be on a downward trajectory.
Although the Yankees have played in only one playoff game since 2012, Girardi is generally viewed as a solid manager and maintains a good working relationship with General Manager Brian Cashman, who is also entering the final year of his contract.
With the Yankees committed to a youth movement, Girardi could be judged on how some of the team’s top prospects progress this season.
Steinbrenner said a manager should be “great at working with both the younger players and the veterans, which Joe is.”
“I think it’s certainly a cerebral job,” he said. “Joe’s a smart guy. There are a lot of aspects to it — particularly when you’re doing it in New York City. You’ve got to have tough skin, which he does. He’s done a good job, but we’ll have to see how this year goes.”
Steinbrenner said that Alex Rodriguez was expected to return to training camp to work with the Yankees’ young players, although Rodriguez and Cashman were working out the details of the arrangement.
Steinbrenner also said that the salary arbitration hearing with reliever Dellin Betances on Friday had been “nothing personal.” Betances is seeking $5 million, while the Yankees have offered $3 million. “We love Dellin,” Steinbrenner said. “He knows that. He’s come up through the organization. It’s just a procedural thing.”
The Yankees have not gone to arbitration with a player since Chien-Ming Wang in 2008, but in Betances’ case, Steinbrenner said, “The numbers were just too far apart.”
Earlier, Girardi had said Betances, at the request of his agent, would not show up at training camp until after Friday’s hearing in St. Petersburg, Fla.
“I think it’s somewhat of a distraction for a player when you wait and find out what it’s going to be and they’re doing preparation,” Girardi said. “You know there’s so many good things in this game from a financial point. This is the part that sometimes gets a little ugly in arbitration, because one side is arguing why you should get the money and the other side is arguing why you shouldn’t get the money.”