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Yankees to talk multiyear deal with David Robertson after closer rejects qualifying offer

Yankees pitcher David Robertson reacts as he walks

Yankees pitcher David Robertson reacts as he walks to the dugout after being taken out of the game against the Minnesota Twins at Yankee Stadium on Sunday, June 1, 2014. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

PHOENIX - David Robertson officially declined the Yankees' qualifying offer Monday, which was pretty much expected.

General manager Brian Cashman said the Yankees now will try to strike a multiyear deal with the 29-year-old closer, who was 39-for-44 in saves in 2014 as Mariano Rivera's replacement.

"Obviously, we'll engage him now in the marketplace and see what they're looking for,'' Cashman said, adding that he had not started those discussions with Robertson's agent. "They're in the driver's seat as free agents, so we'll see where it takes us.''

Cashman, in town for the GM meetings at the Arizona Biltmore, said he thought it was "50-50'' that Robertson would accept the one-year, $15.3-million offer.

"It's unique because it's a closer and a reliever, and $15.3 million is a lot of money,'' Cashman said. "I didn't have a feel for it either way. But the one thing we do have a feel for is how good a player he is, how good of a person he is, how great a competitor he is. The New York environment, he's not afraid. He checks every box off. Came in behind Mariano Rivera, seamless transition. That's no easy task.''

Should Robertson find the kind of big-money deal elsewhere that the Yankees aren't willing to pay -- a possibility that cannot be discounted -- fan favorite Dellin Betances would be the odds-on favorite to inherit the closer's role, though not automatically.

"Until someone's actually doing it, out of respect for the difficult job that it is, I only get comfortable after seeing it for a while,'' Cashman said. "Those are the answers I gave via Robertson's attempt to secure the job [in 2014], which he did . . . As of right now, we don't have to name the closer for 2015 yet. So let's see how the negotiations go with David.''

Signing or replacing Robertson isn't all that is on Cashman's offseason plate.

"Obviously, we need a shortstop, maybe third base, although we're protected with [Martin] Prado, who can play second, third or the outfield,'' Cashman said. "We'll look at starting pitching and we'll look at bullpen, especially if we lose Robertson at some point.''

Replacing Derek Jeter was always going to be a challenge, made even more so by what Cashman called a "limited'' shortstop market.

Among the free agents the Yankees have looked into are Hanley Ramirez, Jed Lowrie and Stephen Drew, whom they acquired at the trade deadline in 2014.

Possible trade targets could be Alexei Ramirez of the White Sox and Elvis Andrus of the Rangers. Both clubs need catching and the Yankees have a surplus, with trade chips such as John Ryan Murphy, Francisco Cervelli and prospect Gary Sanchez.

One American League scout called the 26-year-old Andrus, who signed an eight-year, $120- million extension in April 2013 but struggled last season, a "perfect fit'' for the Yankees.

"They'd get him back to where he was,'' the scout said. "He would be re-energized.''

Meanwhile, it hardly is news that the Yankees are in the market for a third baseman -- one of their own free agents, Chase Headley, has been high on their list since season's end -- given their doubts about Alex Rodriguez. Cashman discussed those doubts in a conference call Oct. 10, though that wasn't brought up Monday.

A-Rod's alleged admission of extensive PED use to federal authorities in January, which came to light last week in the Miami Herald, was brought up, but Cashman didn't bite.

"I've seen the articles,'' he said, "but I have [no] comment on that.''

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