Those expecting any significant Yankee transactions in the next few weeks will be disappointed. This is general manager Brian Cashman’s busy season and that does not just pertain to reaching out to players and agents.
In between various charitable appearances, Cashman is getting a gauge for the starting pitching market — led by C.J. Wilson on the domestic front and Yu Darvish on the international front.
Cashman made an appearance at the Hard Rock Café in Times Square for the New York Cares winter coat drive yesterday and Saturday he will be in Vermont for a fundraiser for farmers impacted by Hurricane Irene. Then he will head to the GM meetings in Milwaukee Monday and return for two more charitable functions next Thursday.
In his spare time, he will attempt to finish his initial calls to agents or other general managers to determine costs and asking prices for players.
“I haven’t talked to every team and I haven’t talked to every agent yet,” Cashman said. “I certainly haven’t had one agent tell me what they want financially. No one’s made any demands to me. No one’s made me an offer, so I don’t know what these current free agents are looking for yet in terms of years or dollars, and I certainly don’t have every team covered yet [for trade analysis], although I certainly am trying.”
Cashman is certainly trying, because beyond CC Sabathia, he is hardly comfortable. Though he likes minor leaguers Dellin Betances, Manny Banuelos, David Phelps and Adam Warren, the preference would be to enter next season with someone more established behind Sabathia and in front of A.J. Burnett, Ivan Nova and Phil Hughes.
“There’s obviously more developmental steps necessary for some of those guys,” Cashman said. “Are some of them capable of doing what Nova did in terms of taking a gigantic step? That’s possible. Is it something you want to count on and expect? I think that’s a dangerous thing to do. I do like our young players; we do give them opportunities, but I believe it’s in our best interests if I can continue to reinforce the rotation to get a little more comfort level there. It might not be realistic, but we’ll see.”
Even if getting a significant starting pitcher does not work out, Cashman seemed willing to take chances on guys with questionable track records.
“There’s different ways to climb that mountain. The best way or the most comfortable way is to get an absolute slam dunk that everybody feels this gives you a big safety net and comfort,” Cashman said. “Then there’s the other way. You go over the river and through the woods and to grandmother’s house you go and you have no idea whether you’re going to get there or not other than letting the season play out.
“It turns out the other way was a great way for us [this year], but the choice box in the trade and free agency perspective will include the perceived slam dunk, good deal story guys or the I don’t know what I’m getting guys but I’ll take a chance guys. I think the price tags associated with it will determine how this plan plays out.”
The Melk Man
The first trade of the offseason was San Francisco acquiring ex-Yankee outfielder Melky Cabrera from Kansas City for starting pitcher Jonathan Sanchez. Despite a report the Yankees were disappointed in not getting Sanchez, who is 38-46 with a 4.26 ERA in his career, but issued 5.9 walks per nine innings last season.
“No, not at all,” Cashman said. “I know there was a report out there that we were disappointed. We were aware, but no. We didn’t have any trade discussions on it.”
Quite a catch
In terms of other trades, Cashman said he has received some calls about the Yankee catching depth. That includes backup Francisco Cervelli, power-hitting Jesus Montero, defensive-minded Austin Romine and low-level minor leaguer Gary Sanchez.
“There would be interest in those guys,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of teams express 'hey, if you’re ever going to do something there, mark us down,’ that type of things.”
A month after suffering a strained right forearm that forced him out of Game 5 of the ALDS, Nova was cleared by team physician Christopher Ahmad to resume his normal routine.
Joba Chamberlain’s rehab from “Tommy John” surgery also is progressing though there is not a timetable for his return.
“I could tell you the summertime, he’ll tell you the spring,” Cashman said. “The one thing on Joba that we probably have to be careful about; he wants it yesterday. He’s working his tail off. He’s going to try do everything he possibly can to be ready as soon as he possibly can, and ahead of schedule. That’s where we have to make sure we work with rehab personnel that he takes his time.”
Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.