Cashman: 'We have a clearer picture of certain things'
Yankees leave Winter Meetings still seeking second baseman, additional starter
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Before the Winter Meetings began, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman used a football analogy to describe the current state of the team, saying that he was "on the 1-yard line" in reaching agreements with a variety of players.
Some of those deals -- like Jacoby Ellsbury, Kelly Johnson and Hiroki Kuroda -- have been pounded into the end zone. The Yanks are just about to wrap up final details with Carlos Beltran, but with more needs left to be addressed, New York has found it increasingly difficult to put points on the board.
Still, Cashman said that his time at the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort was productive. The Yankees continue to search for help at second base, third base, the starting rotation and the bullpen.
"We have a clearer picture of certain things," Cashman said. "I have my likes and certainly I have my dislikes in terms of the opportunities in front of us. We're still churning through it."
The Yanks spent most of the three-plus days here talking trade, having participated in a frenzied week of free-agent spending before teams arrived in Florida.
Outfielder Brett Gardner has been a popular target for teams to inquire about, including the Reds, who floated a trade proposal that would have sent Gardner to Cincinnati in exchange for second baseman Brandon Phillips.
But the Yankees are in no hurry to trade Gardner, believing that he could form a dynamic combination in the lineup and the outfield with Ellsbury. Furthermore, they have reservations about Phillips' declining statistics and remaining contract ($50 million through 2017).
A person with knowledge of the Yanks' thinking said that the talks with Cincinnati were "way overblown," and said, "[If they did trade Gardner,] it would have to be in a valuable pitching capacity." They'd much prefer to deal Ichiro Suzuki, but there have been no takers thus far.
Cashman said that the second-base market seems to be deeper than the market at third base, where the Yankees have touched base with free agent Mark Reynolds as they prepare for the uncertainty of Alex Rodriguez's situation.
The Yanks continue to monitor the situation with Japanese standout Masahiro Tanaka, but they otherwise are not rushing to get involved with a free-agent starter crop that is headlined by Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana. They've also agreed to talk with agent Peter Greenberg about free agent Johan Santana.
Though he is the most likely in-house fit, the Yankees have not anointed David Robertson as the closer for next season and will continue to talk to relievers, including Grant Balfour and Boone Logan. Cashman noted that asking prices for bullpen help have been comparable to starting pitchers in some cases.
Cashman said that no area is a bigger priority than another as the team continues to advance.
"We want to pull down the best player for the money that we have," Cashman said. "In certain areas, there might be a lot of low-end stuff, there might be high-end stuff in another, so in theory, one area would look like it's more of a priority. If the best player comes at a different position that's of need, I just want to get a collection of the best players we can get."
Deals done: The Yankees received right-hander Kyle Haynes from the Pirates to complete a Dec. 2 trade that sent catcher Chris Stewart to Pittsburgh.
Rule 5 Draft activity: The Yanks lost five players, including hard-throwing right-hander Tom Kahnle, who went to the Rockies in the Major League phase. In the Minor League phase, New York also lost outfielder Ravel Santana (Astros), right-hander Mikey O'Brien (Reds), right-hander Felipe Gonzalez (Pirates) and right-hander Kelvin Castro (Marlins).
Goals accomplished: The Yankees talked to plenty of agents and clubs during the Winter Meetings. Cashman said that the Bronx Bombers have "things sitting on the table" that they are waiting to hear back on. If the answers come back as yes, Cashman said that he is ready to roll.
Unfinished business: A replacement for Robinson Cano is obviously on the to-do list. The Yanks have talked to Omar Infante, but they aren't thrilled with the asking price. (ESPN reported that Infante is looking for four years and $40 million.) They would like a right-handed-hitting fit for third base, as well as a starter who could be counted upon for about 200 innings. Cashman also wants bullpen help from both the right and left sides.
Team's bottom line: "It's been a lot of conversations thus far," said Cashman. "There's some things I could definitely do. As I've thrown out, 'This is what I'm willing to do,' I'm getting from the other end, 'This is what they're willing to do.' It's like a stare-down contest, I guess."