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Cashman: Yanks won't dive right into free-agent pool

Brian Cashman has called Curtis Granderson and Nick

Brian Cashman has called Curtis Granderson and Nick Johnson "true character guys." Photo Credit: Getty Images

The moment free agency began last offseason, Brian Cashman was off to the races, immediately dialing up CC Sabathia.

But the Yankees' general manager said Monday that he'll proceed much more deliberately when free agency, version 2010, begins Friday.

"You probably won't see offers right out of the gate," Cashman said. "When free agency kicked in last year, I jumped in. The first call was to CC. This year is different."

The Yankees will begin organizational meetings this week as planning for 2010 begins in earnest, with the primary focus laying out the list of free agents and essentially rating them.

The reasons the Yankees don't figure to jump right in vary.

Most significant is that the Yankees committed $423.5 million in salary when they signed free agents Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and A.J. Burnett last offseason.

This year's free-agent class is generally considered weak. The class is led by righthander John Lackey and outfielders Matt Holliday and Jason Bay. Though the Yankees can never be counted out in the pursuit of any free agent, they'll likely be monitoring things from the periphery, at least in the early stages.

"We'll see what we can do, but I have a feeling we'll be a little bit more cautious than anxious," Cashman said at last week's GM meetings in Chicago.

On Monday, Cashman said the Yankees are entering free agency in a much different circumstance than a season ago, and not just because they're coming off a world championship now.

"Thankfully, we have a real strong nucleus in place and we have some replacements to move forward with, as well as a farm system that's producing some guys ready to contribute right now," he said.

Last offseason was the perfect storm of a strong free-agent class that matched up with the team's needs, and all of it "coincided with $100 million coming off our payroll," Cashman said.

He added: "It doesn't always work out that way."

It did for 2009, enabling the Yankees to plug holes en route to their first World Series appearance since 2003 and first title since 2000.

"We have a lot of areas already solved," Cashman said. "We have internal options in most cases and we've already made huge financial commitments. [But] it doesn't mean we won't be aggressive moving forward."

One way that could manifest itself would be via trade. The Yankees already have been linked to several possibilities, including Tigers outfielder Curtis Granderson.

Cashman wasn't talking specifics Monday, including whether the Yankees will use this week to talk with their big-name free agents: Andy Pettitte, Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui. The Yankees have exclusive negotiating rights with their own free agents until Friday.

And though Cashman said the Yankees' roster looks fairly strong "even if we didn't do anything," that won't be the case in the months to come, of course.

Said Cashman: "We'll clearly be doing stuff."

New York Sports