With money coming off books, Yankees seem inclined to make some moves
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It is unlikely that many deals, either with free agents or between teams, will be struck this week in Orlando.
But plenty of groundwork for such agreements will be laid during the general manager meetings, which begin Monday.
And for the first time in a couple of offseasons, the talk surrounding the Yankees in such matters won't be about them laying low.
While managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner, who will arrive in Orlando midweek along with other owners, hasn't authorized GM Brian Cashman to go on a spending spree, the Yankees do have money coming off the books. That will allow them to be engaged with the agents for several prominent names on the market.
Among those are catcher Brian McCann, outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, shortstop Jhonny Peralta and righthander Matt Garza.
The Yankees' top target, Japanese righthander Masahiro Tanaka, has not been posted yet by his current team, the Tohoku Rakuten Eagles of the Pacific League, but that is expected to happen.
Then there are the slew of lower-profile free agents such as shortstop Stephen Drew, infielder Brendan Ryan, whom the Yankees acquired late last season from the Mariners, and righthander Dan Haren, whom the Yankees spent a lot of time scouting toward the end of the season.
Make no mistake, Steinbrenner's goal remains to bring the payroll to $189 million this offseason to avoid a stiff luxury- tax penalty, but the Yankees' plan is to use some of the money coming off the books to make a big splash or two in free agency.
Andy Pettitte ($12 million) and Mariano Rivera ($10 million) have retired and free agents Hiroki Kuroda ($15 million), Curtis Granderson ($13 million) and Phil Hughes ($7.15 million) might not be back, though Kuroda and Granderson each received a $14.1-million qualifying offer from the Yankees.
All players receiving qualifying offers have until Monday at 5 p.m. to accept or decline.
Boone Logan ($3.15 million) and Joba Chamberlain ($1.875 million) also are free agents unlikely to return.
Additionally, there is the nearly $31 million that could be freed up should enough of Alex Rodriguez's 211-game suspension be upheld to wipe him out for 2014.
Cashman has declined to comment on how his offseason spending plans will be impacted by the A-Rod situation, but one organizational insider described the GM's hands as being "tied" while he awaits a resolution.
Even Joe Girardi, speaking at a USO event at the Stadium Thursday morning, said the uncertainty around Rodriguez "complicates" things.
"Whether you have him or not, it's important that you know, because if we're not going to have him, we need to fill that void," Girardi said. "It causes us to think a lot about do we need a third baseman or do we not need a third baseman? Hopefully we'll know sooner rather than later."
Of course, the biggest name of all on the market is Robinson Cano, 31, who has spent the past nine seasons with the Yankees. The two sides remain far apart on a new deal.
The Yankees, loath to take on another albatross of a long-term deal, have offered seven years in the range of $170 million. According to sources, Cano's representatives have asked for $300 million over 10 years, though he has denied that.
Cano's name will be front and center this week in Orlando, but more from the standpoint of which teams other than the Yankees are interested in him. For his part, Cashman expects the process to be a long one.
"It's my impression, but who knows? I'm the wrong person to ask," he said. "This is the first time he's been a free agent and we're how many days in? I think he wants to get a sense for what everyone else wants to tell him. It [the process] will be as long as he wants it to be."