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Cash will talk, but he won't be aggressive

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman talks to reporters

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman talks to reporters before a game in 2010. Photo Credit: Kathy Kmonicek

MILWAUKEE -- Brian Cashman arrived at the Pfister Hotel, the site of this year's general managers' and owners' meetings, early Monday evening. He came, he said, with no plans to meet with any player agents.

Every player representative wants to get together with the Yankees, however, and Cashman usually engages them, if only to stay connected on players' asking prices.

Given that Cashman has identified "pitching, pitching, pitching" as the team's top need, it's likely that the Yankees executives here will sit down with Bob Garber, who represents free-agent pitchers C.J. Wilson and Roy Oswalt, and Scott Boras, who has a well-traveled pair in righthander Edwin Jackson and lefty Bruce Chen.

The Yankees already have communicated by phone with Garber, and Cashman -- who is joined here by assistant GM Jean Afterman and senior director of pro personnel Billy Eppler -- is on record with his belief that the lefthanded Wilson is the best starting pitcher available on the open market. Cashman qualifies that the price tag can impact a player's standing, however, and Wilson is expected to do very well in this pitching-thin market. The Yankees don't appear to be as high on Wilson as are other clubs, including the Angels, but Cashman always likes to have as much information as he can get.

The righthanded Oswalt doesn't rank as high because of his age (34) and because multiple stays on the disabled list (back problems) limited him to 139 innings pitched.

Boras' highest-profile free agent this offseason is first baseman Prince Fielder, in whom the Yankees don't have serious interest. Boras also has former Met Francisco Rodriguez, who will be looking for a closer's job that the Yankees can't offer. In Jackson and Chen, however, Boras has a pair of starting pitchers who have become reliable.

Yu Darvish, the star pitcher for the Nippon Ham Fighters, likely will be posted for major-league teams. The Yankees think highly of Darvish, but their horrendous experience with lefty Kei Igawa has left team ownership wary of diving back into that talent pool. Texas, Toronto and Washington seem more enthusiastic about signing Darvish.

The Yankees' best option for improving their starting rotation -- in addition to bringing back free agent Freddy Garcia -- could be the trade avenue. The White Sox's John Danks, Oakland's Gio Gonzalez and even the Mets' Mike Pelfrey are among those who could be available, and the Yankees have built up a highly regarded stockpile of prospects as trade chips.

While the club's starting lineup appears largely set, unless Nick Swisher is traded for pitching help, the Yankees have to tweak their bench, which became a strength this past season.

Veterans Eric Chavez and Andruw Jones are free agents, and Cashman has expressed an interest in bringing back both. Boras also represents Jones.

New York Sports