Masahiro Tanaka remains in limbo, but Brian Cashman insisted Friday that the Yankees aren't necessarily waiting for the Rakuten Golden Eagles to make a decision on posting him.
"It's not holding up anything," Cashman said. "We're focusing on what's available in the marketplace, not what might become available one day or might not. We're also recognizing that we might not get everything answered with the exclamation point or the comfort level we would prefer."
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Tanaka would be the exclamation point the Yankees badly need for their rotation, which has far too many question marks at the moment. But it is unclear if he will be posted this year, and Rakuten officials told reporters Friday in Japan that they have yet to make a decision or establish a timetable to do so.
When asked about his internal candidates for the rotation, Cashman reeled off a bunch of iffy names, including Michael Pineda, who is trying to come back from May 2012 shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum. "We hope it's behind him," he said, "but we can't guarantee it is."
There is another marquee name clogging up the Yankees' offseason plans, in more ways than one. Even with the major retooling of the roster, at an expense of more than $320 million, the Yankees have a lot riding on the fate of Alex Rodriguez. With a ruling on the appeal of his suspension expected early next month, only then will the Yankees know if they'll be freed of his $26-million salary for 2014 and its luxury-tax implications.
"We keep Alex Rodriguez in the budget, the way we've planned," team president Randy Levine said. "He's going to be here until we hear if there's a changed circumstance. It's out of our control, so we don't worry about it."
The Yankees also don't want to hear any more about the $189-million luxury-tax threshold, but A-Rod ultimately will be the key to whether they can stay below it in 2014. "I'm not talking about the 189," Cashman said. "I think that's old news for me. Our owner has addressed it a lot. Our need to be aggressive is because of how last season went. Without the obvious answers coming from within, we have no choice but to be aggressive."
Notes & quotes: Kevin Youkilis, who played only 28 games last season after signing a $12-million contract with the Yankees, reportedly has signed with Rakuten. He batted .219 with two homers before season-ending back surgery June 20 . . . The Yankees have added some familiar faces to their organization. Gary Tuck returns for his second stint as bullpen coach and Trey Hillman, who has managed six Yankees affiliates, the Royals and the Nippon Ham Fighters, is back as a special assistant. Former Cubs manager Mike Quade was named roving outfield and baserunning instructor and Matthew Krause takes over as strength and conditioning coordinator.