Brian Cashman plays the waiting game
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DALLAS -- It came off as almost a throwaway line but was telling.
Listing the big-money commitments the Yankees have to players such as Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia, Mariano Rivera and A.J. Burnett -- just to name a handful -- general manager Brian Cashman, late in a 16-minute chat with reporters, gave voice to what has been obvious the last couple of offseasons.
"It's not as easy getting a yes anymore on that stuff," Cashman said here late Tuesdayafternoon. "And understandably so."
Combining the salaries of the above-mentioned players -- and others -- and including the raises likely coming to arbitration-eligible players such as David Robertson, Brett Gardner, Phil Hughes and Russell Martin, the Yankees already have in the neighborhood of $190 million committed for 2012. With the team's desire to keep the payroll around $200 million and its intent to avoid the luxury tax of 50 percent that could be applied as part of the new collective-bargaining agreement, profligate Yankees spending on the 2011 free-agent class isn't happening. That probably will be the case -- at least in terms of a cautious approach -- in future years, too.
Cashman, who does want to add depth to the rotation but so far sees the prices attached to free agents such as C.J. Wilson, Mark Buehrle and Hiroki Kuroda as prohibitive, has been telling people at these meetings he's more inclined to make those improvements via the trade market. But prices remain high there, as well.
"I've had some new ideas, thrown some new ideas out," Cashman said. "I've talked to other clubs about some different things but I don't get any sense they're going to lead anywhere."
Pitchers on the block who interest the Yankees include John Danks of the White Sox, Matt Garza of the Cubs and Gio Gonzalez of the Athletics. But Cashman isn't so interested that he's willing to give up some of the organization's top prospects such as pitchers Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances and catcher Jesus Montero to get them.
"There's no frustration on my part," said Cashman, who also met with various agents throughout the day Tuesday. "I think it's more a reflection of there's a lot of good stuff here right now. Trying to add to that is not as easy. Could I do it? I could add significant payroll and give up some serious top-end talent that's cheap and under control for a long time. I could do that . . . Those things are possible but those wouldn't be wise moves for the future of this franchise. I feel very comfortable turning down everything that's been offered my way so far."
Manager Joe Girardi arrived in Dallas Tuesday night and shortly after arriving called his roster "pretty set" and, like Cashman, talked finances.
"We have a lot of guys on long-term deals already, so maybe that's why not a lot is happening with us," he said.
"Those role players who did so well for us last year, those are roles that have not been filled for us yet and I think that's important to our club," Girardi said. "We do have some age and we do like to give guys a day off here and there. I thought Andruw Jones did a tremendous job for us, I thought Chavez did a tremendous job for us, as well, and we missed Chavez when he went down for those 2½ months . Those are important roles that we need to fill."
-- With Ken Davidoff