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Cashman: 'Time is ripe' for Yanks to make moves

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Tuesday he is confident that his club will be in position to complete at least one addition before checking out of the Winter Meetings.

Cashman said that his priorities are focused upon a corner outfielder and the left side of the infield, while confirming that he has made contact with the representatives for free agent third baseman Kevin Youkilis and catcher A.J. Pierzynski.

"The time is ripe for us to be doing something," Cashman said. "I can't predict that I'll get something done, but there's a lot of players in the marketplace that see the voids we have, and they want to play here."

After spending the early part of the offseason making sure they retained pitchers Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera, the Yankees have also made contact with the agents representing in-house free agents Eric Chavez, Raul Ibanez and Ichiro Suzuki.

"I've had conversations with all those parties, amongst others," Cashman said. "I obviously have to find out what my realistic opportunities are and the prices associated with those opportunities. There's a lot of players on the marketplace, but I don't think the marketplace is full of a lot of players that I like."

Though they've shown interest in Pierzynski -- who earned $6 million last year with the White Sox -- Cashman said that he believes the Yankees will have to cobble together their catching from within.

New York has Francisco Cervelli, Chris Stewart and Austin Romine on the roster, and Cashman said he could see an open competition between those three for the starting job next spring.

"I doubt I can upgrade on what we have catching-wise, because the defense is an important aspect for us," Cashman said. "The bat's a secondary aspect. That's why starters who can do defense and offense make a lot of money."

For example, the Yankees did like catcher Russell Martin, but they were unable to match the two-year, $17 million deal he received from the Pirates. It's all further evidence, manager Joe Girardi said, that the club's mandate of reducing payroll below $189 million in 2014 is real.

"I think sometimes people assume that the New York Yankees are the New York Yankees and there's no budget constraints, and there aren't things that we want to stick to, but there are," Girardi said. "So I think that's part of the reason why he wasn't re-signed."

As far as the pool of players to replace the injured Alex Rodriguez at third base, Cashman called it a "very limited sandbox to play in," and said he is beginning his search by seeking players who can simply fill in for at least three months.

Youkilis earned $13 million last year, the final season of a four-year pact signed with the Red Sox, and it appears unlikely the Yankees would match that figure. Still, they might be willing to consider a large, one-year deal with a player like Youkilis.

"Optimally, that's the best way you'd like to go, but it might not be the way I have to go," Cashman said. "It just depends on the player and the dollar amount. All that good stuff."

Girardi floated the idea that the Yankees might need to turn to a platoon for third base, and Chavez has proven he can succeed in that role if healthy. The Yankees have also liked infielder Jeff Keppinger for some time, though it remains to be seen if they'd go as far as a multiyear pact for him.

Cashman added that he has also been fielding calls from free agents volunteering to switch positions if they'd be considered to play third base for the Yankees, but said, "I don't have an interest in stuff like that."

For the outfield search, with Nick Swisher expected to depart as a free agent, Cashman said that he is looking at his roster as though it has two center fielders in Curtis Granderson and Brett Gardner.

It is possible that the acquisition of a corner outfielder -- they've been connected to free agent Scott Hairston, who has a well-earned reputation for mashing left-handed pitching -- could switch Gardner to center field with Granderson moving to a corner.

Of course, the Yankees could also entertain a trade involving Granderson, who is set to earn $15 million in 2013 and will be a free agent after the season.

"We'll just take our steps through the process," Cashman said. "The preference is always to get your problems solved and get them fixed, but the realistic side of that is that it's going to take time and you have to solve it over time.

"If you don't feel comfortable with the solution, you shouldn't solve it until you feel comfortable. I'm prepared to drag this thing out. Hopefully everybody else is, too."

New York Yankees