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Cashman in wait-and-see mode on retooling Yanks

GM says there's been plenty of talk but action might be a while
MLB.com @BryanHoch

NEW YORK -- The Yankees are in the market to bolster their starting rotation, identifying Brandon McCarthy as one of their targets, but have sent signals that they intend to sit back on top free-agent prizes like Jon Lester and Max Scherzer.

General manager Brian Cashman remained tight-lipped Thursday while discussing the team's progress in the marketplace, indicating that there have been plenty of phone calls and text messages exchanged but little to show for it as of yet.

NEW YORK -- The Yankees are in the market to bolster their starting rotation, identifying Brandon McCarthy as one of their targets, but have sent signals that they intend to sit back on top free-agent prizes like Jon Lester and Max Scherzer.

General manager Brian Cashman remained tight-lipped Thursday while discussing the team's progress in the marketplace, indicating that there have been plenty of phone calls and text messages exchanged but little to show for it as of yet.

"It's certainly taking its time, but it's been busy," Cashman said. "Certainly a lot of conversations. Hopefully they'll lead somewhere positive."

Cashman often cited the Collective Bargaining Agreement while discussing the Yanks' plans in free agency, saying that he could not speak to specifics. Nearly one year after making a seven-year, $175 million investment in Masahiro Tanaka, Cashman was asked if he could see the team producing a similar offer this winter.

"I don't think I really should say, to be honest," Cashman said. "It's not in my best interest and I don't even think it's allowed for me to legally say. So I'll pass, other than to say that we're looking at ways to improve our club. But we're looking at smart ways to improve our club. I guess I can say that much."

Lester has reportedly met with several clubs, including the Red Sox, Cubs and Braves, while Scherzer's market has seemed to be quieter. As of now, the Yankees have not been linked to discussions with either hurler and have not engaged with fellow free agent James Shields.

The Yankees have focused instead on bringing back several contributors to last year's club, which won 84 games and finished second in the American League East. They are interested in re-signing McCarthy and infielder Chase Headley, both of whom will likely wait until bigger-ticket free agents come off the board.

Cashman has also been staying in touch with Scott Leventhal, the representative for closer David Robertson, though he would not characterize their discussions. The Yankees also want to find a shortstop who would represent an upgrade over Brendan Ryan.

"I can restate clearly shortstop, maybe third base; the left side of the infield is definitely a priority," Cashman said. "[We'd like to] reinforce our pitching. I think we have good pitching, but there's obviously some volatility in it because of the health status and health histories of some of them. Those are two areas I would like to focus on.

"The bullpen, clearly with the Robertson circumstance, is an issue. That's a handful, right off the bat. I can't really say if any of the big-ticket items are in play or not in play. I'm just going to say we're doing everything in our power to improve the club. Ownership has always been very beneficial with the resources to put the team on the field."

Cashman said that he would be open to the idea of signing more than one free-agent pitcher to supplement an Opening Day rotation that as of now projects to be headlined by Tanaka, CC Sabathia and Michael Pineda, with Ivan Nova not expected to return from Tommy John elbow surgery until at least May.

The Yankees have not heard if Hiroki Kuroda intends to continue pitching in 2015, and Cashman was non-committal when asked if the team would be interested in another season of work from the right-hander, who will turn 40 in February and earned $16 million this year.

"I wouldn't say. Every dollar counts to something," Cashman said. "Everything we do has to be accounted for, so it will have an impact on something else. It depends on the entire context of the roster. But I do need starting pitching, so he's clearly an area that would solve some issues. We'll see."

Cashman dismissed the suggestion that the Yankees thus far seem to be working toward bringing back a very similar roster to last season's, with the addition of third baseman/designated hitter Alex Rodriguez.

"It's way too early to say what kind of team I'm going to have yet," Cashman said. "We're not even into December yet. Let me get through mid-January and I'll get a better feel of what kind of team I'm going to have and compare it to last year's team. But I definitely have work to do, no doubt about that."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

New York Yankees