TAMPA, Fla. — Now that Bryce Harper is officially a member of the Phillies, consider Brian Cashman officially done with discussing either Harper or Manny Machado, as well as any perception that the Yankees failed this offseason by not pursuing them more vigorously.
“I’m closing the chapter on these questions about high-end free agency in the winter,” Cashman said before Sunday’s game at Steinbrenner Field. “I feel like we’ve vetted that enough. Sorry. I’d rather focus on the here and now, and the real rather than the unreal.”
Cashman never disguised his non-interest in Harper, saying as far back as December’s winter meetings that the Yankees’ outfield was set. The general manager did grab some headlines later with his “fully-operational Death Star” comment in regards to a Harper-related question, but he still steered clear of the player.
After Harper was introduced Saturday as the proud owner of a record 13-year, $330 million contract, agent Scott Boras confirmed that the Yankees didn’t get involved, saying, “It was really never a thought.”
Boras joked that he got excited when Hal Steinbrenner called him at one point, only to discover it was to talk about something else.
The Yankees were intrigued enough by Machado to at least host a December meeting at Yankee Stadium and a dinner in Manhattan, but his asking price — along with the Troy Tulowitzki signing — made him a luxury they chose to pass on. Two months later, Machado got a 10-year, $300 million contract from the Padres.
As for the remaining free-agent pool, which still contains attractive options such as former Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel and closer Craig Kimbrel, Cashman didn’t hint at any need to further upgrade a payroll that stands at roughly $229 million for the coming season.
“We’re obviously up and running with what we’ve got,” Cashman said. “We’re excited about what we got and how a lot of it looks like now, and hoping that’s enough. But you’re always looking to improve over the course of time, if it’s within certain parameters on both ends. So obviously between now and Aug. 31, we’ll continue to evaluate all opportunities.”