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Yankees not aiming big at trade deadline, GM Brian Cashman says

General Manager Brian Cashman speaks at a press

General Manager Brian Cashman speaks at a press conference where former Yankee Bernie Williams formally signed his retirement papers before a baseball game between the New York Yankees and the New York Mets at Yankee Stadium on Friday, April 24, 2015. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Brian Cashman knows all the speculation surrounding the first-place Yankees and what they may do before the trade deadline on July 31.

And he had this message late Monday morning: "It's more likely that we don't do anything rather than predicting we do something significant," the general manager said.

Of course, that can be read as a smoke screen but recent history has had Cashman perform minor surgery rather than major on his roster at this time of the season.

Last year was the most recent example, though Cashman said that before the 2014 deadline he was borderline desperate to improve a leaky infield, which he did with the acquisitions of Chase Headley and Stephen Drew, and add rotation depth, which he did with the trade for Brandon McCarthy.

"Last year there were a ton of holes, a ton of holes to blacktop," Cashman said. "I had a lot of areas that needed covering. At this current date, that's not the case, and I hope it stays that way."

In evaluating his current club, which stands at 50-41 and leads the AL East by four games over second-place Baltimore entering Tuesday night's series opener against the Orioles at the Stadium, Cashman said, "I like our team."

"Do we have flaws? We have flaws," Cashman continued. "But I think we have a lot of internal options. I think we have depth in our pitching. Could you improve on the starting staff with what's on the marketplace? The answer is yes but at what cost? Could you improve on the bullpen? The answer is yes but at what cost?"

In other words, Cashman doesn't seem inclined -- and this has been the case in recent years as well as his club has tried to hold down costs and bulk up its farm system -- to deal a top prospect. They include pitcher Luis Severino, who appears on the cusp of a big-league call-up, catcher Gary Sanchez, outfielder Aaron Judge and first baseman Greg Bird, all promoted this season to Triple-A, or second baseman Rob Refsnyder, who just made his debut with the Yankees.

"If you look at available bats on the market, if you want to talk about second base, we have an internal option in Refsnyder," Cashman said. "But the marketplace isn't really plush with available alternatives. I think that's true throughout the game. Bats aren't really available. There's not a lot of quality available."

As for the decision to option the 24-year-old Refsnyder back to Triple-A -- a move unpopular with many Yankees fans who quickly fell in love with the second baseman who went 2-for-12 with a homer -- Cashman said it was a matter of holding on to Drew and Brendan Ryan, two veterans who provide infield depth.

"When [Carlos] Beltran [came back] we were forced to make a decision in keeping all of our assets as we get to the deadline," Cashman said. "I made the call in the end, after a lot of conversation, that it's in our best interest to hold on to our assets. I can get Refsnyder back in 10 days. If I have to DFA somebody, I wouldn't be able to get those guys back."

The Yankees come into the series against the Orioles with a decent cushion, but only eight games separated first and last place in the division entering Monday night.

"We are bunched together," Cashman said. "It's a division there for the taking. We're obviously trying to take it, but so are the other guys. We'll keep grinding through it. Hopefully we're the last team standing."

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