PHOENIX - As he left last year's general managers meetings in Orlando, Florida, Brian Cashman called the annual gathering a "necessary evil."
It was not a criticism, simply an acknowledgment that there's typically a lot more talk than action at these events.
As he checked out of this year's meetings at the Arizona Biltmore Thursday morning, Cashman's assessment wasn't quite as harsh. "This felt busier than maybe past meetings I've participated in," he said.
The reasons were multiple.
"I don't remember doing a trade at the GM meetings before," Cashman said.
That occurred Wednesday night when the Yankees sent reserve catcher Francisco Cervelli to the Pirates for lefty reliever Justin Wilson. "I look at him like Boone Logan," Cashman said, referencing the former Yankee lefthander now with the Rockies. "He can get lefties and righties out. He's not a situational [guy]. He can pitch a full inning."
Wilson, 27, went 3-4 with a 4.20 ERA in 70 games with the Pirates last season. He walked 30 and struck out 61 in 60 innings. In 2013, he posted a 2.08 ERA in 58 appearances, striking out 59 and walking 28 in 732/3 innings.
Cashman said he and his Pirates counterpart, Neil Huntington, discussed the exact same swap two years ago. The deal finally came together Wednesday.
"We're excited to have him, excited to throw him in there," he said. "We think he's going to be a nice valuable piece for us."
Though the assumption is that John Ryan Murphy will become Brian McCann's backup, Murphy is highly regarded by other teams and could be used as a trade chip to fill one of the many other holes Cashman has on his roster. Though his stock has dropped significantly in the organization, Austin Romine has big-league experience and is an option at backup catcher.
"We have guys with major- league service with Romine and Murphy, but we'll see how it all shakes out," Cashman said. "I'm still open to any possibilities in improving our club."
There remains much to improve. Though there has been plenty of buzz that the Yankees won't be in on any of the big-name, big-money pitching free agents, they have plenty of concerns regarding the rotation, so it's far too early to discount the possibility of at least kicking the tires on Max Scherzer, Jon Lester or James Shields.
As of now, the focus is on re-signing Brandon McCarthy. The righthander, among the next tier of starters on the market, intends to see where the aforementioned trio ends up first.
With so much uncertainty surrounding Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees have prioritized bringing back Chase Headley to play third. Headley probably will see which third base-needy teams lose out in the Pablo Sandoval sweepstakes before signing.
And then, of course, there is the not-so-small matter of replacing Derek Jeter. "The most important spot is that shortstop position and trying to improve on the current starter, Brendan Ryan," Cashman said.
It is, he said, a "limited market" from which to do so. The Yankees have an interest in re-signing Stephen Drew and could look at other free agents such as Jed Lowrie or Asdrubal Cabrera, whom they've liked in the past. Among the trade possibilities are Alexei Ramirez of the White Sox, the Phillies' Jimmy Rollins and Elvis Andrus of the Rangers.The Yankees committed nearly $400 million in contracts last offseason, spending not likely to be repeated, though Cashman wouldn't go so far as to say that.
"It will be high, I can tell you that," Cashman said of the payroll. "It'll be impressive. I'm just hopeful to have a roster that's just as impressive."