Will suspended third baseman Alex Rodriguez return to the Yankees in 2015? Brian Cashman believes so.
"There is a contractual obligation, so it's self-evident," the general manager said Tuesday at Yankee Stadium after the team introduced Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka.
Cashman was the only member of the front office willing to answer a question on the subject. Managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner wanted no part of it, saying it would be "bad form" to discuss it on Tanaka's day in the Bronx.
Manager Joe Girardi was asked about Rodriguez's status and merely said, "That seems to be settled. We won't have him until 2015."
Rodriguez, who will lose an estimated $22 million in salary this season, is still owed $61 million for the 2015-17 seasons.
A spokesman for Rodriguez said "of course" the player intends to complete his contract with the Yankees.
Rodriguez on Friday ended the fight to return this season, accepting a full-season suspension after he dropped federal lawsuits against Major League Baseball and the Players' Association.
"When the arbitration decision came down, I no-commented," Cashman said. "I thought the decision spoke for itself. I think I'll stay with that approach at this stage regardless of what he chose to do Friday."
Cashman said the team will go with Kelly Johnson at third base "along with a cast of characters." He said he is "open to affordable options that might become available, but realistically, the answers that we will have are going to come from our current roster here or at [Triple-A] Scranton."
Notes & quotes: Casey Close, Derek Jeter's agent, said the shortstop will decide whether to begin contract talks for 2015. Close, who is also Tanaka's agent, said it was premature to look ahead but would leave that up to Jeter, who turns 40 in June and is on a one-year deal for $12 million.