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Yankees leave winter meetings with more information but little else

Yankees GM Brian Cashman holds a press conference

Yankees GM Brian Cashman holds a press conference at Yankee Stadium. (Oct 1, 2013) Photo Credit: Bruce Gilbert

SAN DIEGO - The Yankees entered the winter meetings on Monday having accomplished two major offseason goals three days earlier -- netting a shortstop (Didi Gregorius) and bolstering their bullpen (Andrew Miller).

And then, nothing.

As one club insider jokingly (sort of) put it: "We were having a great winter until we got here.''

It is too simplistic to say the Yankees came away empty-handed -- concepts explored with agents and other teams very well might bear fruit later in the offseason -- but the headlines for now belong to teams such as the Dodgers, White Sox, Cubs and Tigers.

"You always want to walk out of here with something to show for it,'' Yankees assistant general manager Billy Eppler said Thursday morning after the Rule 5 draft, in which his club did not make any selections. "But when you make [progress] in certain arenas, it makes you feel like you've made some headway and you've been able to drill down on some things that hopefully will present themselves in the coming days.''

General manager Brian Cashman met with plenty of agents and opposing teams while here.

"We threw a lot of ideas a lot of different ways, but we've got a long way between now and Opening Day,'' Cashman said early Thursday morning, according to MLB.com. "We'll keep our conversations that still are ongoing alive and just wait and see.''

The Yankees need a starting pitcher, preferably two, and one major target came off the board late Wednesday night when righthander Brandon McCarthy, who went 7-5 with a 2.89 ERA for the Yankees after joining them in early July, agreed to a four-year deal worth a reported $48 million with the Dodgers.

While the Yankees very much wanted McCarthy back, they were scared off by his injury history. As the market for him developed, reluctant to commit more than two years, they never made an offer.

"Did they [the Dodgers] even look at his medicals?'' said one opposing team executive whose club was not in on McCarthy, 31, a combined 52-65 with a 4.09 ERA in nine seasons. "It's insane.''

Added another opposing team official: "That's a pretty good payday for a guy with a spotty record. But it's that time of year. Teams get desperate.''

The Yankees, who also are waiting for a decision from free-agent third baseman Chase Headley, may yet become one of those teams when it comes to their rotation.

There are clubs (the Reds are one example) looking to shed starters, but the Yankees have few pieces in their system -- righty prospect Luis Severino is an exception -- whom other teams want.

Cashman said he contacted the Diamondbacks about Wade Miley and the Tigers about Rick Porcello -- both of whom subsequently were dealt elsewhere -- but there were no matches to be made.

So speculation remains rampant that, as starting pitching options dwindle, the Yankees could be a late entry in the Max Scherzer sweepstakes, or even those for James Shields, whom Cashman has long liked.

There are no current indications that Hal Steinbrenner will approve such an expenditure. But if spring training season- ticket sales continue to lag, and if voices mount in the managing general partner's ear suggesting that a third straight dark October is increasingly possible if a major reinforcement is not obtained, more than a few in the organization believe that stance could change.

Eppler, however, stressed how early the process is.

"You look at the offseason as a good 3½-month stretch,'' he said. "It's condensed here. There's obviously a lot of coverage and attention given to this, but taking a realistic view, it's four days out of that offseason . . . We start early and we end late and sometimes we have something to show for it that everybody can read about and sometimes we don't, but we always walk out of here with a better picture of what we're going to be able to do.''

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