Yankees face big decisions ahead

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General manager Brian Cashman of the New York

General manager Brian Cashman of the New York Yankees looks on during batting practice before playing against the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. (Sept. 2, 2011) Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

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Anthony Rieber Newsday columnist Anthony Rieber

Anthony Rieber has been at Newsday since Aug. 31, 1998 and in his current position since 2004.


Whether the Yankees' season ends Thursday night or continues to the final game of the World Series, team brass will have plenty of decisions to make this offseason.

Here are the key ones:


Cashman, the general manager since 1998, is at the end of a three-year contract that paid him about $6 million.

The Yankees' policy is to not negotiate new contracts until the old ones run out, whether it's for the manager (Joe Girardi), future Hall of Fame players (Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera) or the general manager.

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"I'm definitely not focused on my situation," Cashman said Tuesday in a telephone interview. "My contract runs to Oct. 31 and we will have conversations at the appropriate time. All that other stuff will sort itself out."

Cashman could have several high-profile jobs to pursue if he decided to leave. The Cubs. The Orioles. Possibly the Red Sox.

Hal Steinbrenner has consistently said he wants Cashman to stay. Unless Cashman needs to scratch the itch to try something new, he's expected to sign on for another stint.


Assuming Cashman stays, his first order of business will be to deal with Sabathia, who can opt out of his seven-year, $161-million contract.

Sabathia, 31, has four years and $92 million left. If he were to hit the open market, he'd likely command more than that. He may not be in the class of the top aces in baseball, and his weight and the innings he's piled up have to be a concern, but the Yankees need him badly. It would be a surprise if he didn't at least threaten to use the opt-out and a bigger one if he wasn't on the mound for the Yankees on Opening Day 2012 with a contract extension.


The $35-million setup man who was signed over Cashman's objections has been a bad fit in New York. Invisible in the clubhouse, he served up the eventual game-winning home run to Delmon Young in ALDS Game 3 on Monday after the Yankees rallied to tie the score against Justin Verlander.

But Soriano's unique contract gives him the right to opt out after this season or the next one and take a $1.5-million buyout. Since he is going to be paid $11 million in 2012 and $14 million in 2013, it would be hard to imagine the Scott Boras client walking away from the money, especially since no other team would likely approach that much in the open market. So a marriage that hasn't seemed good from the start will probably continue.



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No Yankee had better at-bats through the first three ALDS games. He could help another team as a lefthanded DH/1B/backup catcher if he wanted to continue his career. One thing seems clear: He will not wear the pinstripes again until his first Old-Timer's Day.


The Yankees hold a $9-million option on the popular rightfielder. Although Swisher's postseason numbers have been anemic, he provides pop and on-base percentage during the season and should hold down rightfield for another year. The Yankees do not have any top outfield prospects in the upper minors.


Arbitration-eligible after his first Yankees season, Martin could provide a bridge for one more year. The Yankees love Austin Romine as a catcher. They love Jesus Montero as a hitter. Would either be ready to be an everyday catcher in 2012?

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Technically, this is not the Yankees' decision or a baseball one. But fans do care. The team's radio rights are up for grabs after the season and a new station -- if WCBS doesn't re-up -- might want to pick its own announcers. The Yankees have veto power.

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