Brian Cashman acknowledged the obvious regarding a long winter ahead.
"We have a lot of problems we need to attack," the Yankees general manager said early Tuesday afternoon during a nearly hour-long news conference wrapping up a disappointing 2013 season that resulted in the club missing the playoffs for just the second time in the last 19 years.
What about Girardi?
There could be news in the coming days regarding one of the primary issues.
Cashman disclosed he sat down with Joe Girardi, whose contract officially expires Nov. 1, on Monday and will meet with the manager's agent, Steve Mandell, for lunch Wednesday.
"He's been exceptional every year we've had him," Cashman said. "If you're good at what you do, you'll have opportunities to stay. He's definitely going to have that. We're going to give him a real good reason to stay. We can't control what other options or interests that may be out there."
The Nationals and Cubs, who fired Dale Sveum Monday, could have interest. Cashman would not comment when asked if he would give the Cubs permission to speak with Girardi, a Peoria, Ill., native who grew up rooting for the team. Cubs owner Tom Ricketts, who is trying to win back an unhappy fan base, is believed to be interested in at least looking at Girardi.
What about Cano?
Cashman, who will oversee the annual pro scouting meetings that start Monday at the Stadium, said the team remains intent on re-signing free-agent second baseman Robinson Cano.
But the two sides, with the Yankees loath to dole out another eight- to 10-year, $200-million-plus contract, are far apart and likely headed for a prolonged, and perhaps acrimonious, dance.
"Our intention is to have him back if we can," Cashman said.
Cashman said Cano will "have something legitimately to ponder," though he didn't specify.
"He's been a great Yankee," Cashman said. "I think if he stays he has a legitimate chance to experience what you just saw a little bit with Mariano, where maybe he has the chance to be the first Dominican-born to be in Monument Park, a homegrown Yankee. But at the same time it's a business."
Which Cano, though having enjoyed the emotional tributes for Mariano Rivera, has stated since spring training.
A recurring topic was Hal Steinbrenner's plan to cut the 2014 payroll to $189 million to avoid severe luxury-tax penalties. Cashman said "it's a goal, not a mandate," but indications remain the club's managing general partner very much intends on hitting the threshold.
"I know it's an important goal if we can hit it," Cashman said. "But he [Steinbrenner] also recognizes the responsibility to the fans and trying to do what he can to put a team on the field that you can believe in and have a chance to take a run at a championship."
Rotation, infield questions
Among other priorities: the rotation, which has just CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova under contract, and insurance for the left side of the infield. Alex Rodriguez is facing a 211-game suspension he's in arbitration to overturn, and the 39-year-old Derek Jeter is coming off an injury-riddled season.
Cashman said he believes Jeter can, with a healthy offseason to devote solely to preparing for the season instead of rehabbing a broken left ankle, recapture some of who he was pre-ankle injury. He dismissed the notion of a position change, saying he sees the options for Jeter as "shortstop and DH."
Cashman said, despite the prevailing fan skepticism, the traditional World Series-or-bust organizational mantra instituted by George Steinbrenner "is the same." There will be a full organizational review from top to bottom, Cashman said, and while it appears there will be no sacrificial lambs -- all of the coaching staff is welcome back, assuming Girardi is retained -- missing the playoffs is not acceptable.
"We got derailed this year by decision making, as well as injuries," Cashman said. "They're all my responsibility and the best we could produce, unfortunately, was an 85-win team. That's not Yankees' standards, that's something that we will do everything in our power to rectify and put forth something that people can have expectations for next year . . . Certainly we have our challenges in front of us, but we're not afraid of them."