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Filling rotation needs a challenge for Cashman

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Yankees believe that this year's Winter Meetings have been productive as a whole, but they also recognize that the current market will make it difficult to fill their starting pitching needs.

General manager Brian Cashman said on Wednesday that the asking prices for pitchers have made it challenging to close out deals, and he acknowledged that the Yankees may instead buy a few lottery tickets to cobble together a rotation.

"Non-roster invitees might be key," Cashman said. "I'd rather go the easier route and pull something down that someone's like, 'Good move,' but I don't know if that's going to happen. I might have to go the harder, longer route. We'll see."

That was the low-risk-big-payoff play the Yankees tried in 2011, when they scored big with comeback seasons from Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia after both won jobs with the team by attending Spring Training on Minor League contracts.

The Yankees are hunting to add 200 innings to their rotation but have been lukewarm about a free-agent market that is headlined by Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana.

Cashman said that he has been contacted by Peter Greenberg, the agent for Johan Santana, and that they would meet at some point.

There was also a strong rumor that the Yankees were talking to the Indians about right-hander Justin Masterson, spurring talk that outfielder Brett Gardner might be involved. But Cleveland manager Terry Francona doused that, saying that he called Masterson to tell him that he was not being traded.

"I'd like to climb as high on the board as I can get, but that's unrealistic," Cashman said. "I just may have to settle for something better than what I've got, and that may not be realistic. We're just going through the motions, trying to figure it out."

As he navigated his third day at the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort, taking a break to meet with reporters in a poolside cabana, Cashman said that the Yankees have obtained a clearer picture of certain items on their shopping list.

"There's some things I could definitely do," he said. "As I've thrown out, 'This is what I'm willing to do,' I'm getting from the other end, 'This is what they're willing to do.' It's like a stare-down contest, I guess."

The Yankees continue to ask about help at second base, third base, the rotation and the bullpen. Cashman believes that the second-base market is deeper than the third-base market and that some of the relief help available is just as expensive as the starting pitching.

"There are a lot more options and a lot safer bets in the position-player market," he said, "and that's probably why it's been more aggressive, more money and quicker-moving at times than the pitching market."

Yet the Yankees did acquire a pitcher in a small move on Wednesday, completing the trade that sent catcher Chris Stewart to the Pirates last month, receiving Minor League right-hander Kyle Haynes as the player to be named.

Haynes went 1-5 with a 2.38 ERA in 41 games with Class A West Virginia last season, and Cashman described him as a prospect with a good arm who will have a chance to move through the chain.

Of course, that does not move the needle for the '14 club. Cashman said that because the 40-man roster is full, the Yankees will not be able to pluck help from Thursday's Rule 5 Draft, though he would not be surprised if they lost talent to other clubs.

As the Yankees look ahead to their trip home, flipping Gardner remains in play. Teams continue to call about the speedster in the wake of Jacoby Ellsbury's addition, but Cashman does not see Gardner as a player they would part with easily.

"Brett Gardner is supposed to be a piece to this team to help us next year in a significant way," Cashman said. "That's how we have entered this winter and previous winters. We're big fans of Brett Gardner. I haven't picked up the phone once and offered his name."

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