Commentary

Expect Yanks to be mum at meetings

Budget, high prices and history all indicate Brian won't budge at GM schmoozer

Updated: November 7, 2012, 9:59 AM ET
By Wallace Matthews | ESPNNewYork.com

Major League Baseball's 30 general managers, some of whom are looking to buy, and countless player agents, all of whom are looking to sell, will converge at a desert resort in Indian Wells, Calif., beginning Tuesday night for the annual three-day postseason schmooze fest known as the GM meetings.

[+] EnlargeBrian Cashman
Tim Fuller/USA TODAY SportsYankees GM Brian Cashman said he wasn't working his phone in the days leading up to the GM meetings this week in Indian Wells, Calif.

New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman will be there, along with his assistant GM, Jean Afterman, and Billy Eppler, the club's senior director of pro personnel. But if the GM is to believed -- and he usually is -- Yankees fans should not be expecting any blockbuster additions or subtractions this week.

"I have nothing going with anybody right now," Cashman said on Monday. "I did nothing all weekend but chill."

Understandable, considering Cashman's Connecticut neighborhood was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy and his home was without power or heat until Monday.

And judging by the Yankees' recent history, the club rarely, if ever, makes a major move this early in the free-agent shopping season.

As always, the Yankees have specific needs this year -- they will probably be looking to replace Nick Swisher, who is a free agent and unlikely to be re-signed, they need to add a starting pitcher or two and, unless they make a deal with Russell Martin, they'll be shopping for a catcher, too -- as well as the reality that after their horrendous performance in the ALCS against the Detroit Tigers, they need to get younger and better in order to avoid a similar fate in 2013.

But Cashman said he will not be rushing into anything this week, considering the free-agent crop is markedly weak -- Josh Hamilton and Zack Greinke, two players the Yankees are not interested in, are the marquee players -- and indications from the deals that have been made so far that the market is playing way too high.

Recent deals for Bartolo Colon ($3 million from the Angels despite the fact he will be serving a suspension for PED use for the early part of the season), Brandon League (three years, $22.5 million from the Dodgers) and Ervin Santana (whose $13 million option was exercised by the Angels, who then traded him to Kansas City) seem to indicate many teams are spending the windfall they recently received in the form of a new $12.4 billion cable TV rights deal.

So while the Yankees have an interest in re-signing Martin, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, Ichiro Suzuki and Hiroki Kuroda, to whom they made a $13.3 million qualifying offer last week, the likelihood is they will sit back and wait for what they expect will be a market correction later in the winter.

Other free agents the Yankees might have an interest in include outfielder Torii Hunter, coming out of a five-year, $90 million deal with the Athletics, and reliever Joakim Soria, whose agent told ESPNNewYork.com's Andrew Marchand on Monday that Soria, who is seeking a closer's job, would be agreeable to serving as a setup man for the Yankees under Rivera.

Some free agents who will probably be pushed hard on the Yankees include starting pitchers Kyle Lohse and Edwin Jackson, who was passed on by the Yankees a year ago, and outfielders Michael Bourn and B.J. Upton. But with $118 million already committed to six players -- Alex Rodriguez, CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson -- for 2013 and a mandate from ownership to cut payroll to $189 million by 2014, the Yankees don't appear to have much wiggle room in the budget.

If they are going to make a deal, it will probably not be a blockbuster and probably not before the holidays, when unsigned free agents and their representatives tend to become antsy.

The Yankees have made major deals in each of the past two offseasons -- in 2011, they signed Rafael Soriano, and last winter they signed Kuroda and traded for Michael Pineda -- but all three of those deals were made in January.

Wallace Matthews has covered New York sports since 1983 as a reporter, columnist, radio host and TV commentator. He covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com after working for Newsday, the New York Post, the New York Sun and ESPN New York 98.7 FM.
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