Aaron Boone made it clear he wouldn't expect a backlash...

Aaron Boone made it clear he wouldn't expect a backlash in the clubhouse if Yankees signed free-agent shortstop Carlos Correa. Credit: Getty Images/Kevin C. Cox

CARLSBAD, Calif. – Will Carlos Correa’s past as part of the hated Houston Astros be something Brian Cashman considers in deciding whether to pursue the stud shortstop this winter?

Not at the moment. And probably not at all.

"It’s certainly not part of that initial process for me," Cashman told reporters Thursday morning before departing the annual general managers’ meetings, characterizing Correa in an earlier response as "a great player."

But Correa, though not quite as despised by Yankees' fans as Jose Altuve (for their role in the Astros’ illegal sign-stealing scheme from 2017-18, of course), nonetheless is plenty loathed by them, ranking a comfortable second on the hate scale.

Again, Cashman said that is not a concern.

"I’m here just to kind of assess all available players in the marketplace and then get as much information as I can for free agents and potential trade people," Cashman said. "So things like (potential fan/player anger) is not part of that process. To me, just making sure I understand what’s available, the price point of acquisition, and then communicate all of that back to ownership, as well as my baseball ops team, so we can . . . then gravitate to what’s realistic or not."

It is more than realistic to expect the Yankees to be active in the shortstop market this winter – whether the trade market or the free agent one that is flush with standout shortstops like Corey, Seager, Trevor Story, Marcus Semien, Javier Baez and Correa – as Cashman has stated filling the position is his No. 1 offseason priority.

"It didn’t play out the way we’d hoped," Cashman said Oct. 19 of the failed two-year experiment of transitioning Gleyber Torres to short. "I would say, given that circumstance, without question as I enter ’22, I need to obviously upgrade that position from a defensive standpoint."

Correa, for all of his considerable talents offensively, certainly fits that upgrading-that-position-from-a-defensive-standpoint bill to a T (as do all of the aforementioned shortstops as well as defensive specialists on the market such as Andrelton Simmons, another Yankees’ possibility).

Correa, however, isn’t just disliked by Yankees’ fans. There were plenty in the Bombers clubhouse who spoke out vocally – and critically – about the Astros’ scandal and their irritation that no players, Correa included, faced discipline for their role. Aaron Judge was the most vocal, saying, among other things, the ’17 Astros should be stripped of their title because of the cheating.

That said, Judge, a competitor above all else, would be among the first of the remaining angry Yankees to welcome Correa through the doors of the Yankees’ clubhouse should a talent of that caliber come aboard. Players want to win and Correa would be seen as an attribute to that end.

The reason Cashman – even in saying "time will tell" when asked if he felt he would ever have to address the issue with his players – ultimately would not face that kind of issue in his current clubhouse.

"The bottom line is, is he a great player? The answer to that is yes," Cashman said of the 27-year-old Correa. "He’s a free agent. So my job is to assess him as well as the others that are available and then act accordingly."

Though Cashman said at the start of these meetings indications from managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner are he’ll have some "latitude" in increasing the payroll, it’s not yet known if they’d be willing to give the kind of contract it would take to land Correa, whom some in the industry believe could make a run at the 10-year, $341 milliondeal Francisco Lindor got from the Mets. It could take a similar mega-contract to land Seager, seen by many in the sport as the overall better fit for the Yankees because of his lefty bat.

And then there is the uncertainty of the labor situation and its impact on the winter. The current collective bargaining agreement expires Dec. 1, and the industry expectation is owners instituting a lockdown Dec. 2, which would freeze all off-season activity.

"So (far) it’s business as usual," Cashman said at the start of the meetings. "We’re going through our conversations thus far under the current agreement, and if it changes, we’ll adjust to those changes."

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