“NOT SUSTAINABLE”: Hal Steinbrenner Frightens Fans By Admitting Yanks Might Not Be Able To Keep Juan Soto … End Of An Era??

Juan Soto seems like a perfect Yankee.

Not only is he ultra-talented, he’s a confident – borderline cocky – slugger who not only embraces the pressure of the spotlight, he thrives in it.

As Yankee fans know better than anyone, some players just aren’t cut out for the bright lights on the Big Apple.

That whole “New York thing” is very, very real.

When it comes to Soto, in many ways it feels like he was born to wear pinstripes.

Set to hit free agency after this season, the last thing Yankee fans want to think about is the 25-year-old leaving the Bronx for a higher-bidder.

That’s why the recent report of Soto being willing to negotiate a contract extension prior to free agency was beautiful music to the ears of Bomber fans everywhere.

Especially since Scott Boras clients almost always hit the open market the first chance they get.

However, leave it to none other than Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner to throw cold water on the whole situation.

In case you needed a reminder than Hal is not his father, he made sure to come and quiet expectations when it comes to the whole spending money thing.

Don’t get me wrong. The Yankees still spend as much money as nearly anyone. But it’s become crystal-clear that Hal watches his checkbook much, much closer than George ever did.

Addressing the organization’s current $305.8 million payroll, Hal stated that type of level is not sustainable going forward.

Speaking at the Owners Meetings in Midtown, he admitted that it’s not a foregone conclusion the Yankees will be able to afford to keep Soto in the Bronx.

“I’m gonna be honest, payrolls at the levels we’re at right now are simply not sustainable for us financially,’’ he said. “It wouldn’t be sustainable for the vast majority of ownership [groups], given the luxury tax we have to pay.’’

Despite the looming financial constraints, Hal reassured fans that the club will remain committed to fielding a contending team.

He pointed out that the organization will be shedding some contracts after the season, potentially freeing up resources for future acquisitions.

“We’ve got a considerable amount of money coming off [next offseason],’’ he said. “We didn’t have a considerable amount of money coming off last offseason, which is why we’re at where we’re at.”

With Soto’s impending free agency on the horizon, speculation about his future with the Yankees has been rampant.

“I’ve been a broken record [on this topic]: I don’t believe I should have a $300 million payroll to win a championship,’’ Hal said.

“I believe I need a good mix of veterans, who are gonna make a lot more money, but, also, we’ve put a lot of money into our player development system in the last 5-10 years. And in my opinion, we have one of the better ones in baseball now.”

“As they get ready, they’re gonna continue to get their chances, just like Volpe did and Austin Wells did and Gil and others,’’ he added.

“I believe being younger makes you faster and I also believe, whether I’m right or not, it makes you less injury-prone. They’re gonna get their opportunities.”

In fairness, these are all good points made by Hal.

“The biggest pleasant surprise has been the pitching, the starting rotation,’’ Hal said of the current roster.

“We came in with concerns: What [Carlos] Rodon would we get? Can Nestor [Cortes] stay healthy? Luis Gil? And they’re the reason we’re at where we’re at, because the offense did struggle a little bit for a month.”

That’s not even mentioning the fact that the Yankees have had to survive without reigning AL Cy Young winner Gerrit Cole who is considered the best pitcher in all of baseball.

Cole will soon be returning to the rotation – and to steal an analogy from general manager Brian Cashman, Cole’s return will be like trading for an All-Star.

Getting back to Soto, even Hal couldn’t downplay his excitement for the slugger and admitted that he never once had any concerns about his ability to shine on the big stage.

“I had no doubt Juan Soto would perform in New York,’’ he said. “The market, the pressure, none of that was gonna be a problem.

“[It was]: How would he interact with the fans, how would he interact with [the media], how would he interact with his teammates? Those were the three questions I had and he’s been great on all three.”

He sure has…

Now the question is: Will Hal being willing to pay what it takes to keep him???

What are your thoughts on Soto as a player? … Does he have the potential to be the best in the game?

What do you make of Hal’s comments?

Again, it’s all relative – I don’t mean to make the Yankees sound like the Oakland A’s or anything. But does Hal’s stinginess bother you?

At the end of the day, will the Yankees lock Soto up to a long-term extension? … If so, what will those numbers look like???