With negotiations for Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera out of the way, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman began the real work of the offseason on Monday: Wooing free-agent left-hander Cliff Lee at the four-day Winter Meetings in Orlando, Fla.
Cashman will have more than Lee on his plate, as a meeting with Rays outfield Carl Crawford was also reportedly scheduled. And Cashman will be buttonholing other execs throughout the meetings in an attempt to trade for a left-handed reliever and another starter. But no matter what happens with those fringe pursuits, Lee is the prime target. So much so that if Cashman fails to lure the Rangers ace away from Texas, the whole offseason would be considered a failure.
So the all-out push, which started with Cashman getting to Orlando about 12 hours earlier than he needed to Sunday night, has begun. And he’ll try to push the timetable as much as he can, while realizing that it’s not under his sole control.
“It’s their dance card,” Cashman told The Post. “They’re setting the pace of this thing. I can only wait and respect the process they put themselves in. I’m hoping this will be the last city he ends up in, in New York.”