ORLANDO, Fla. - Robinson Cano, Hiroki Kuroda and Curtis Granderson each rejected the Yankees' $14.1-million qualifying offer Monday.
It wasn't staggering news. The real news will come when a player, any player, actually accepts a qualifying offer, something that hasn't happened in the two years the system has been in place.
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"No surprises,'' general manager Brian Cashman said after the first day of the GM meetings. "When we made the qualifying offers, we did not expect anyone to accept. We would have been happy if any of them did, so now we enter the remaining part of the process, stay engaged and try to re-sign our players. I'll have an interest, clearly, in re-signing any of them.''
If any of the three signs elsewhere, the Yankees will receive a compensatory draft pick.
Cano, obviously, remains priority No. 1 of that group, followed by Kuroda. The Yankees have only two of their five starters from last season -- CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova -- under contract for 2014.
Cashman said he has not received an indication whether Kuroda, 38, even wants to pitch in the majors in 2014.
Granderson, meanwhile, is likely to land a multiyear deal despite being limited to 61 games in 2013 because of a broken forearm and a broken pinkie. With power at a premium, some team -- the Mets are one of the interested teams -- will sign the outfielder in hopes that he will recapture the form that allowed him to hit 84 homers in 2011-12.
The Yankees remain interested in Granderson, who will be 33 in March, but will turn their attention to other outfielders high on their free-agent board -- Shin-Soo Choo, Carlos Beltran and Jacoby Ellsbury.
Of course, with the organization's goal to get the payroll to $189 million, cost will be a factor. And outfield isn't close to the most pressing need Cashman has to address. There are the rotation holes and uncertainty at third with how much of Alex Rodriguez's 211-game suspension will be upheld, and uncertainty at shortstop with Derek Jeter and the ankle that never fully healed after October 2012 surgery.
"I'm glad Opening Day is not tomorrow because we have some holes to fill,'' Cashman said. "We're going to have to use this time this winter wisely.''
The GM is realistic about the challenge. The Yankees have targeted players such as Choo, Japanese righthander Masahiro Tanaka, catcher Brian McCann and shortstops Jhonny Peralta and Stephen Drew, but that doesn't mean they'll get them. The industry is flush with cash and plenty of teams are willing to spend it.
"I think it would be naive to say I'm confident about it because the process isn't that easy,'' Cashman said.
Because of a farm system with a dearth of prospects considered close to being major league-ready, it's unlikely any major Yankees holes will be plugged via the trade route.
Cano's desire is to work something out with the Yankees, but he has made it clear that he'll explore the market. Cashman expects a lengthy process, one that the Yankees would have to be willing to walk away from.
"You could get to that point, but it certainly wouldn't be there at the beginning of the process,'' Cashman said. "He's earned the right to be a free agent and he's a premier player, so given that status that he carries, those type of players dictate the dance steps.
"We'll do the dance as long as we can, but yeah, at some point you can't do that forever. But we're in the very front end of this thing. The music hasn't even started yet.''