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Five questions facing the Yankees this offseason

New York Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia warms

New York Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia warms up before Game 3 of baseball's American League Championship Series against the Houston Astros Monday, Oct. 16, 2017. Credit: AP / Frank Franklin II

What are the futures of Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi?

Plenty of signs point to both the general manager and manager, whose contracts will expire at the end of the month, continuing in their current roles, though there’s been increasing chatter in the industry that perhaps Girardi, after 10 years, might want to take a break. He said throughout the playoffs, and again after Game 7 of the ALCS, that he’ll sit down and talk with his family before making any decisions. Though there was some scuttlebutt during the year that managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner hadn’t opened extension talks with either party, that was hardly news, as it’s par for the course for the franchise. Steinbrenner generally doesn’t believe in doing extensions. Cashman accomplished one of the hardest things in sports — rebuilding without the team tanking — so it’s likely that he will come to terms relatively quickly. Could Girardi simply want to step away from the pressure cauldron that comes with the position? It can’t be ruled out, but indications are ownership wants him back, which is still the safe way to bet.

Will Shohei Otani be a Yankee?

According to reports out of Japan, Otani, who has been dubbed the “Babe Ruth” of his native country, plans to play in the major leagues next season. The Yankee are among many teams with a strong interest in the two-way player, who has impressed scouts with both his pitching and hitting ability, and Cashman himself made a special trip to Japan during the season to see the 23-year-old in person. Under current CBA rules, the maximum a team can spend on Otani is in the range of $10 million. The Yankees currently have about $8 million in international pool money to spend. Whichever team lands the star will have to have more going for it than just money. But Otani is said to like the spotlight, so the Yankees certainly will be among the favorites to land him when he hits the market.

What will Masahiro Tanaka do?

Tanaka has an opt-out in the seven-year, $155-million contract he signed before the 2014 season, and before this year, it seemed likely he would exercise it. But though he had a better second half and was a postseason star, he was woefully inconsistent in finishing 13-12 with a 4.74 ERA and allowing a career-worst 35 homers. He has three years and $67 million left on his deal, and although this season was a disappointment, Tanaka is 52-28 with a 3.56 ERA in four big-league seasons. Given the lack of quality starting pitching available on the free- agent market, along with the fact that he is coming off a stellar postseason in which he looked like the ace he was during his first three years in New York, Tanaka opting out can’t be dismissed as a possibility.

Will CC Sabathia want to continue to play and will the Yankees bring him back if he does?

The answer to the first part of the question is yes, which the lefthander reiterated after the Yankees’ loss in the ALCS. From the time he arrived in spring training, Sabathia said that if he remained healthy this season, he would want to continue playing when his contract expired after the year. The 37-year-old not only stayed healthy for the most part but turned back the clock, going 14-5 with a 3.69 ERA, his lowest ERA since 2012, when it was 3.38. Sabathia, beloved in the clubhouse and well-respected by management, is unlikely to end up anywhere but the Bronx in 2018, though his strong regular season, which extended into the postseason, could get some opposing teams involved in bidding for his services. Still, expect a one-year deal, perhaps heavy with incentives, with the Yankees.

What is the future of Dellin Betances?

The ugliness of the arbitration hearing between Betances and the Yankees earlier this year could repeat itself, as the reliever again is arbitration-eligible. This time around, however, Betances — awarded a $3-million salary by an arbitrator last February instead of the $5 million he asked for — won’t have quite the same leverage he brought into the previous hearing. Betances was among the best relievers in the game during the first three months of this season — he had a 1.78 ERA through June — but he had an up-and-down second half that revolved mostly around command issues, which never truly went away. Even though he posted a respectable 2.87 ERA for the season, Betances entered the postseason a question mark and departed it as a bigger one, with Girardi clearly losing confidence in him. Could be an intriguing trade chip.

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