New York Yankees chairman Hal Steinbrenner reportedly "seems inclined" to retain Aaron Boone as the club's manager despite an early playoff exit in the wild-card round.
ESPN's Buster Olney reported Tuesday that Steinbrenner felt "underachieving player performance" was the main reason the Yanks didn't make a deeper postseason run, and he'll likely work toward a new deal with Boone, whose contract is set to expire after the 2021 World Series.
"He likes [Boone], and I don't think he blames him for what happened," a source told Olney.
The Yankees were forced to fight until the final day of the regular season just to earn a playoff berth despite a $203.3 million payroll that ranked second in MLB to the Los Angeles Dodgers ($267.2 million), according to Spotrac.
New York proceeded to suffer a 6-2 defeat to the rival Boston Red Sox in the AL Wild Card Game. Ace Gerrit Cole, in the second season of a nine-year, $324 million contract, allowed three earned runs on four hits and two walks in just two-plus innings of work in the loss.
"I haven't had any conversations about [my contract] with anyone, so we'll see," Boone told reporters afterward. "I love being here. I love going to work with this group of players."
He added: "Whatever does happen, I'm at peace with. I know that I can hold my head high."
Boone has guided the Yanks to a strong 328-218 record during the regular season since being hired in 2018, but he's posted a more mundane 11-11 mark in the playoffs, and the storied organization hasn't reached the World Series during his four-year tenure.
Placing the Yankees' lack of postseason success on the players' shoulders might be a tough sell to the team's fans, who've frequently questioned Boone's managerial decisions in recent years.
Aside from Gleyber Torres, who hasn't been the same player since hitting 38 home runs in 2019, and deadline acquisition Joey Gallo, who hit a paltry .160 after joining the club, it's hard to say any other members of the roster severely underperformed in 2021.
The Yankees lost leadoff hitter DJ LeMahieu to injury at an inopportune time before the playoffs, and Cole couldn't deliver a shutdown performance in the wild-card game, but for the most part the players delivered numbers at or near what could be expected.
Olney noted Boone could receive interest from the San Diego Padres, who fired Jayce Tingler after their second-half collapse, if he hits the managerial free-agent market, while Houston Astros bench coach Joe Espada is an early name to watch if the Yanks opt for a change atop their coaching staff.
Espada spent four years as a coach with the Miami Marlins (2010-13) and three with the Yankees (2015-17) before joining the Astros in 2018.
It sounds like Boone's fate could come down to the wire despite the indications Steinbrenner is interested in maintaining the status quo heading into 2022.