During some offseasons, Brian Cashman has no problem publicly laying out his priorities.
Last offseason, for example, was stating the goal of extending CC Sabathia, who had an opt-out in his contract, to make sure the lefthander didn't get a chance to test the free-agent market.
The Yankees' general manager hasn't been as specific this offseason, but the priority still revolves around one area.
"It's always pitching. You always try to upgrade your pitching," he said Thursday afternoon from his Yankee Stadium office. "Good pitching is hard to find."
But, Cashman added, there are plenty of other pressing areas of need, ones he can officially start checking out at 12:01 a.m. ET Saturday, when free agents can sign with any team.
"Obviously we have some important positions [to address] at catcher, rightfield, as well as some bench guys," he said.
And, depending on what Mariano Rivera decides to do, closer might have to be added to that list.
The Yankees have until 5 p.m. Friday to make qualifying offers of $13.3 million to their own free agents. According to a source with knowledge of the team's thinking, Rafael Soriano, Nick Swisher and Hiroki Kuroda are likely to receive them.
All players receiving qualifying offers have until Nov. 9 to accept or decline. Should they accept, they are signed at that dollar figure; if they decline, they will become free agents. The Yankees -- or any team losing such a free agent -- then would receive draft-pick compensation if they sign elsewhere.
The Yankees very much would like Martin back, but his market value is seen as lower than the $13.3-million qualifying offer.
Soriano, who went 42-for-46 in save opportunities after taking over for the injured Rivera in 2012, opted out of his three-year, $35-million contract, which had one year and $14 million remaining, on Wednesday. He will get a $1.5-million buyout from the Yankees.
It's not beyond the realm of possibility that Soriano will accept the qualifying offer, giving him a raise of about $800,000 just for opting out. But the Yankees are under the impression that Soriano's agent, Scott Boras, believes he can get bigger -- meaning "closer" -- money elsewhere. And that, at least in the form of a three- or four-year deal, won't be in the Bronx.
"We wouldn't pay him closer money again to be a setup guy," Cashman said.
It can't be ruled out that Swisher will accept the qualifying offer, although when he signed with agent Dan Lozano two offseasons ago, the rightfielder's goal was to land a large multiyear deal in free agency, something he has almost no chance of getting from the Yankees.
The Yankees would like to re-sign Kuroda, who signed a one-year, $10-million deal last offseason, and from most accounts, he enjoyed his one season in pinstripes. There are questions regarding the 37-year-old, such as if he wants more than a one-year deal -- which the Yankees wouldn't be as interested in doing -- seeks to return to the Dodgers, for whom he pitched in 2008-11, or wants to finish his career in Japan. The righthander was pursued by the Hiroshima Carp last offseason, and indications are the Carp are interested in him again.