NEW YORK -- The five weeks immediately following Game 7 of the American League Championship Series were an impressive balancing act for Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, who conducted an intensive managerial search while overseeing a wide-ranging presentation that had been intended to woo Japanese standout pitcher and hitter Shohei Ohtani, who reportedly chose the Angels on Friday.
The Yanks had already decided to hire Aaron Boone as the 33rd skipper in franchise history when Ohtani's representatives reached out to Cashman, informing him that the Yankees had been eliminated from the sweepstakes. He'd have rather not received that phone call, but the GM seemed to bounce back quickly.
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"I do think that the future is bright," Cashman said. "We've got a lot of good stuff that is already in place, and we've got more good stuff coming. I thought everybody got a chance to see that on the baseball stage this year play out. It has a chance to play out that way even further in the future."
As the Yankees prepare for the upcoming Winter Meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., Cashman is ready to pivot from Ohtani in hopes of reinforcing the roster for another postseason appearance in 2018.
"I don't think there is a lot for us to have to do," Cashman said. "I think we're going to be patient, and we're going to be diligent."
Cashman and managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner have both said that starting pitching is the team's priority. The rotation projects to be headed by Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, Sonny Gray and Jordan Montgomery. The Yanks have been in contact with Carsten Sabathia's agent, and they have also been linked to free agent Alex Cobb.
Who they can trade if necessary
The Yankees' highly rated farm system provides them with the chips to talk with any club, but they would prefer to keep those assets for themselves. The big league roster has several players who could be of interest, including but not limited to Christopher Austin, Dellin Betances, Starlin Castro, Luis Cessa, Jacoby Ellsbury, Clint Frazier, Brett Gardner, Chase Headley, Bryan Mitchell, Austin Romine and Chasen Shreve.
Per MLBPipeline.com, the Yanks' top 10 prospects are Gleyber Torres, Chance Adams, Estevan Florial, Justus Sheffield, Miguel Andujar, Domingo Acevedo, Albert Abreu, Nick Solak, Jorge Guzman and Freicer Perez.
Rule 5 Draft
The Yankees juggled their 40-man roster in recent weeks, clearing space in order to protect several players from being selected in the Rule 5 Draft. That group included Torres, Abreu and Acevedo, plus Thairo Estrada, Jonathan Loaisiga and Billy McKinney. Among those unprotected are Abiatal Avelino, Nestor Cortes, Rashad Crawford, J.P. Feyereisen, Mike Ford, Anyelo Gomez, Brady Lail and Stephen Tarpley. The Yanks' 40-man roster is full.
Big contracts they might unload
Ellsbury has three years and $68 million remaining on the deal he signed prior to the 2014 season. Cashman said that he has not spoken with agent Scott Boras about having Ellsbury waive his no-trade clause, but the GM also has not ruled out opening that conversation. Other big-ticket players who could draw interest include Castro, who has two years and $22.7 million remaining. Headley has one year at $13 million left, while Gardner has one year and $11.5 million left.
Steinbrenner believes that the Yankees can come in below the $197 million threshold in 2018, resetting their luxury tax penalty rate. They have $108.7 million committed to seven players: Castro, Albertin Chapman, Ellsbury, Gardner, Headley, Player Page for David Robertson and Masahiro Tanaka. Eight others are arbitration-eligible and could add more than $30 million to the payroll: Betances, Gray, Didi Gregorius, Aaron Hicks, Tommy Kahnle, Romine, Shreve and Adam Warren.