Here are five Yankees things to watch for at the winter meetings at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas through early Thursday afternoon:
Here’s the pitch. General manager Brian Cashman said it in his end-of-season news conference and has said it consistently since then: Acquiring starting pitching is his offseason priority. He has James Paxton in the fold after a deal with the Mariners but wants to add one more starter. Last week, the Yankees lost out on two pitchers in whom they had an interest – Patrick Corbin agreed to terms with the Nationals and Nathan Eovaldi re-upped with the Red Sox – so the focus will turn elsewhere. On the free-agent front, J.A. Happ is a top target and has been since free agency started just after the World Series. Expect Cashman to keep checking in with the Indians, who have Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer available via trade.
Getting serious – or not – about Manny. Cashman has kept the dialogue open with the agent for Manny Machado; he and Bryce Harper top the marquee for this year’s free-agent class. Indications are that the Yankees are doing their due diligence on the All-Star infielder and aren’t yet ready to go all-in with the kind of mega-contract it likely will take to land Machado. There is no evidence that the Yankees were turned off by Machado’s “Johnny Hustle” comments from the postseason, so if they don’t aggressively pursue him, it won’t be because of that.
Don’t forget the pen. The Yankees in 2018 had one of the best bullpens in baseball – a truism more than a few years in a row now – and should in 2019, too. Still, Cashman does have some work to do here. Zach Britton, a trade-deadline acquisition, liked his time in the Bronx but wants to close, something that won’t happen with the Yankees. Additionally, his price tag may be high. David Robertson also is a free agent and could return, but that is far from certain.
Sonny’s days in pinstripes numbered. Is this the week Cashman finally moves Sonny Gray? The GM has publicly stated this offseason – several times – his intent to trade the inconsistent righty. “It hasn’t worked,” Cashman has said of Gray’s time in New York. Cashman has received plenty of interest, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he finds a match by week’s end.
Keep dreaming on Bryce. Though there have been plenty of headlines suggesting otherwise, jumping into the Bryce Harper sweepstakes remains a slim-and-none proposition -- leaning heavily toward none -- for the Yankees. They have a glut of outfielders, so Harper, as of now, simply isn’t a fit. Several reports have said the Yankees plan to meet with him, but indications are that currently isn’t the case.