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NEW YORK -- Although nothing is set in stone, New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman doesn't expect to be extremely active at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
"I think it's going to be very difficult to improve upon this roster, so I'm going into the deadline very skeptical," Cashman said.
The cost to marginally upgrade is pretty ugly, you know. I just don't know if it's gonna be worth shooting all the bullets it's gonna take to get somebody in here and hope they can help us in the short term.” -- Yankees GM Brian Cashman
Cashman said it's possible the Yankees do something small or perhaps claim a player off waivers if he gets released, but added: "The price tags suck, to be honest."
The Yankees have persevered through season-ending injuries to pitchers Michael Pineda and Mariano Rivera -- along with injuries to Brett Gardner, Joba Chamberlain, David Robertson, CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte -- and entered Sunday with the best record in the major leagues (54-33).
"We have a championship-caliber team," Cashman said. "We have strengths in every aspect of the roster."
Cashman didn't dismiss the possibility of making a bigger move -- "I will stay out there and have conversations," he said -- but certainly seems against it.
The GM, who never has been in favor of dealing prized prospects for a rental, seems more inclined to wait for Gardner, Sabathia, Pettitte and Chamberlain to return, improving the roster internally.
"The cost to marginally upgrade is pretty ugly, you know," Cashman said. "I just don't know if it's gonna be worth shooting all the bullets it's gonna take to get somebody in here and hope they can help us in the short term."
Gardner (right elbow strain) has appeared in just nine games this season. The left fielder played a three-inning simulated game Sunday, but Cashman did not know the results.
Chamberlain (Tommy John surgery, ankle surgery) threw a two-inning outing for the organization's Gulf Coast League club Saturday. He will continue to make rehab appearances and still needs to throw back-to-back days, Cashman said, but could end up coming back before his recommended 30-day program.
Sabathia (strained left leg muscle) is due to come off the disabled list and start on Tuesday against the Toronto Blue Jays. Pettitte (fractured ankle) is targeting Sept. 1 for his return date. He underwent a checkup X-ray on Sunday, but the results weren't available yet, according to Cashman.In the meantime, veterans Andruw Jones and Raul Ibanez have done fabulous jobs platooning in Gardner's absence. Rafael Soriano has been lights out since replacing Rivera as the team's closer, and Hiroki Kuroda, Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova have all stepped up at the top of rotation with Sabathia and Pettitte sidelined.
"Not as an insult to Brett Gardner, but we haven't missed him," Cashman said. "He's a huge asset that we can use, but have we missed him? No. Have we missed Joba? No. Is he a huge impact (pitcher)? Yes.
"So all these guys right now, they can only make us better and give us more choices, but I don't feel that if (Brett) doesn't come back, that I have to do something here, because the other guys are doing such a great job for us in my opinion.
"I mean, are there players out there that are better than what I have? I'm sure. But with the cost associated with acquiring those, that's what's gonna turn me off."
Cashman said he has not entered into negotiations with representatives for Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson on contract extensions. Both superstars will be a year away from free agency following the end of the 2012 season.
"We don't do stuff in season, but this winter we'll be forced to look at these things," Cashman said. "It doesn't mean anything will happen, but we'll be forced to look at it.
"I'll have a conversation with ownership, but no one's initiated anything from our end or their end, so to me, it's not answerable."
Cashman discussed the team's decision to sign first-round pick Ty Hensley. An MRI showed an abnormality in Hensley's right shoulder. The Yankees ended up signing the starter out of Ole Miss for $1.2 million -- $400,000 under slot.
"We feel good about it because we signed him, but at the same time we negotiated the way we negotiated, but I'm really happy that he accepted," Cashman said. "He's got a real plus-arm, and we hope he's gonna be a real asset to the system."
Asked about the MRI at Yankee Stadium, Hensley said, "I'm healthy."
Hensley will head to Gulf Coast League shortly, though he doesn't know when he'll appear in a game.Mike Mazzeo is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.