LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Brian Cashman left the winter meetings early Thursday morning, departing even before the 9 a.m. start of the Rule 5 draft, the de facto end of the annual meetings.
It was a quiet finish for the Yankees’ general manager after a raucous start to the week, one that kicked off with the Giancarlo Stanton trade becoming official Monday and a Tuesday deal in which Chase Headley was sent to the Padres, freeing up about $13 million.
The apparent lack of activity at week’s end, however, should not be read as lack of activity.
“We’re full frontal attack on all fronts,” Cashman said Wednesday night. “Obviously, we need to address some things, but patience is a virtue. We’ll see if something can get settled between now and [Thursday morning], but really, we have between now and spring training.”
The club’s top priority is acquiring a starting pitcher, or perhaps two, with free agent CC Sabathia near or at the top of the list. But the Yankees, still determined to bring their payroll under the $197-million luxury tax threshold, have company in their pursuit of Sabathia, with the Angels and Blue Jays among the teams who met with the lefthander’s representatives this week. It remains to be seen whether Sabathia, who has established roots in the area, is using those meetings as a way to leverage a better deal from the Yankees, who originally signed him as a free agent before the 2009 season.
Cashman, with a bevy of desired prospects in his farm system, spent part of his week here engaged on the trade front too, checking with teams that have starting pitchers available such as the Tigers (Michael Fulmer), Pirates (Gerrit Cole), Royals (Danny Duffy) and Diamondbacks (Patrick Corbin and Zack Greinke). But those prices, in terms of the prospects whom clubs want back, are high, at least at this point in the offseason, the reason Cashman isn’t in a rush.
“It’s hard to find a match,” he said.
With the departure of Headley and Starlin Castro, who was part of the Stanton trade with the Marlins, Cashman also is poking around infield options.
The Yankees like Todd Frazier, who fit in well after being brought over from the White Sox at the July 31 trade deadline, but the cost could be prohibitive.
They have stayed in the loop with the Orioles about third baseman Manny Machado, but that remains a slim-and-none proposition.
The Yankees could have two of their top prospects, Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar, battle it out for the starting job at third during spring training. Torres, Tyler Wade and fast-rising prospect Thairo Estrada could be considerations at second. It still seems likely that a veteran infielder will be brought aboard.
“I’m still circling,” Cashman said, using an airplane analogy on any more moves coming this offseason. “It might take some time, [but] I’ve got some gas in the tank. I might be circling for a while, but I’ll be able to land the plane at some point.”
Yankees lose six. Cashman expected to take a hit in the Rule 5 draft and was not wrong, as six players were plucked from the Yankees’ system. In the first round of the major league phase, righthander Anyelo Gomez was taken by the Braves, lefthander Nestor Cortes was selected by the Orioles and first baseman Mike Ford was taken by the Mariners. The Yankees lost righthander Jose Mesa to the Orioles in the third round of the major league phase, righthander Yancarlos Baez to the Twins in the first round of the Triple-A phase and catcher Sharif Othman to the Marlins in the second round of the Triple-A phase. The Yankees made one pick, selecting outfielder Junior Soto from the Indians in the first round of the Triple-A phase. Any player not on a club’s 40-man roster is eligible to be picked.