- Wallace Matthews, ESPNNewYork.com
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NEW YORK -- New York Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner would like to resolve the issue of Joe Girardi's contract "sooner rather than later," and hinted that the resolution could wind up being someone else managing the Yankees in 2014.
"My guess is it's going to be done one way or another relatively shortly," Steinbrenner said on "The Michael Kay Show" on ESPN New York 98.7 FM on Tuesday afternoon. "He knows we want him back. He knows my family is proud of him for the job he did this year with adversity and all that. We'll just have to see. There's always other factors involved and other obstacles to be surmounted, and we're going to do our best to keep him here."
Steinbrenner sidestepped the question of whether he would grant Girardi permission to speak with other clubs -- the Chicago Cubs are known to be interested, and there are reports the Washington Nationals might be, too -- before his contract expires Oct. 31.
Steinbrenner did not specify what "other factors" were involved or what obstacles still needed to be surmounted. But it was clear from the tone and content of his response that the son of George M. Steinbrenner III is not inclined to wait forever for Girardi -- or anyone else -- to make up his mind.
The reason Hal Steinbrenner gave for why the team is prepared to move on if Girardi wants to weigh his options is that he needs the manager to be present at the Yankees' annual organizational meetings that usually take place around the end of October.
"Quite frankly, we're going to be starting our baseball meetings soon and we want the manager, whoever that is, hopefully Joe, to be a part of that," he said.
"I don't think anybody is a must-sign, and I would say that about any employee at any level," Steinbrenner said. "We made him what we consider a very, very fair offer. He's got things to consider and a family to talk to, and I know he's doing that right now."
When asked whether he had a short list in case Girardi bolted for a different club, Steinbrenner replied: "Haven't even talked about it yet. I am an optimistic kind of guy."
Steinbrenner said he has had two conversations with Girardi, one on Mariano Rivera Day at Yankee Stadium and another by telephone, as has general manager Brian Cashman.
"We're talking in good faith and we both understand that for many reasons, this can't draw out," Steinbrenner said. "We need to get busy. We've got a lot of work to do. We want him to be part of it, not somebody else. It's been six years, he's been loyal to us, we've been loyal to him. We both understand we deserve to get this done quickly."
On Friday, the Yankees made what was termed "a generous offer" to bring Girardi back on a multiyear deal -- his previous deal was for three years at $3 million annually -- but Girardi has yet to accept it.
Earlier Tuesday, a team executive told ESPNNewYork.com that there had been no change in Girardi's situation since the Yankees' offer was given to agent Steve Mandell on Friday afternoon.
"No white smoke yet," said the executive, who requested anonymity because, while he is familiar with the talks, he is not directly involved in the negotiations.
Mandell did not return a phone call seeking comment, but the team executive expressed optimism that Girardi would return to the Yankees and said the club was not troubled by the fact that the deal had yet to be finished.
"There's no clock here," he said.
In a news conference before the Yankees' season finale Sept. 29, Girardi spoke favorably about his tenure as the Yankees' manager and downplayed his ties to Chicago and the Cubs, for whom he played seven of his big league seasons. He also said money would not factor in his decision.
But in the ensuing 10 days, there have been reports out of Chicago that the Cubs were prepared to outbid the Yankees for Girardi's services and that Girardi was interested in "exploring" the opportunity to become the Cubs' manager.
"I don't know what's true and what's not true," Steinbrenner said of the reports. "All I can do is make what I think is a very, very fair offer based on the time he's spent here and how much we value him and the fact that this is New York City, and that's what we did. So we'll see what happens."
In his six seasons as manager, Girardi has led the Yankees to three division titles and a wild-card berth, as well as the 2009 World Series title. Two of his Yankees teams, including this year's, did not make the playoffs, the only two times since 1995 they failed to get to the postseason.
New York Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner would like to resolve the issue of Joe Girardi's contract "sooner rather than later," and hinted that the resolution could wind up being someone else managing the Yankees in 2014.