Don't expect big names to come off board at GM meetings

Sandy Alderson, left, is in his first year Sandy Alderson, left, is in his first year with the Mets as general manager, while Brian Cashman enters his 14th year with the Yankees. Photo Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa (Alderson); Thomas A. Ferrara (Cashman)

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INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- On the eve of the GM meetings, it was more about the arriving executives getting their bearings rather than talking business, which will begin in earnest Wednesday.

The Orioles' Dan Duquette asked around for nearby dinner spots. The Brewers' Doug Melvin and the Reds' Walt Jocketty toured the pool area. As for Brian Cashman, well, showing up Tuesday in a new location just meant facing the same old question: Do you anticipate teams "feeling you out" about Alex Rodriguez?

"I don't see that happening," Cashman said.

As GMs rolled into the Hyatt lobby, however, they did so with the expectation of laying the groundwork for future deals, with a timetable unlikely to change all that much from previous years despite the introduction of qualifying offers to determine compensation.

"I'm not convinced names are going to come off the board this week," one AL executive said Tuesday night. "It's still early. There's a long way to go."

That's true. The World Series ended only 10 days ago, and baseball's winter meetings -- where many of the megadeals often occur -- are scheduled to start Dec. 2 in Nashville. It's more likely for talks involving the top free agents to develop then, with Josh Hamilton and Zack Greinke headlining a list filled with mostly middle-tier talent.

The Yankees have plenty of their own free agents to contend with, and Cashman said Tuesday that he now has a budget for 2013 after speaking with owner Hal Steinbrenner. The GM added that getting below the $189-million luxury-tax threshold for 2014 is still "a directive."

But Cashman will need to spend some cash this winter. Mariano Rivera told the GM last Friday that he plans to return next season. The Yankees intend to give Andy Pettitte as much time as he needs to decide about 2013, and Hiroki Kuroda -- the Yankees' de facto ace during CC Sabathia's DL stints last season -- also is weighing whether to pitch for the Yankees or in Japan next year.

Beyond that, Cashman is considering Ichiro Suzuki for an outfield spot and the expectation is that he will meet with the agent for Torii Hunter this week. Hunter remains a strong possibility for the Rangers, especially if they lose Hamilton to free agency, but the looming competition -- one that could also involve the Red Sox -- threatens to drive up his price to a point where the Yankees may not want to pay.

"Do I have something that I'm looking to execute while I'm out here?" Cashman said. "No. It's mostly administrative [stuff] and whatever agents are here I'm meeting with. And obviously I'll have a chance to engage with 29 clubs."

As for the Mets, Sandy Alderson is not scheduled to arrive at these meetings until Thursday, with assistant GM John Ricco filling in until then. Alderson's offseason plans, however, hinge on his contract negotiations with David Wright and R.A. Dickey. Until those talks are resolved, one way or the other, the Mets will be in a holding pattern in regards to other potential moves.

If the Mets can't come to an agreement with either Wright or Dickey, the next step could be trading them, which still seems extreme at this stage. The team has been tight-lipped about the ongoing negotiations, but any early optimism appears to have faded some.

Notes & quotes: In a couple of minor moves Tuesday, the Yankees claimed off waivers righthander David Herndon from the Blue Jays and Josh Spence from the Padres. Herndon, 27, made five appearances for the Phillies last season before having Tommy John surgery in June. Spence, 24, went 0-1 with a 4.35 ERA in 11 relief appearances last season for San Diego.

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