Yanks to keep ears open at Winter Meetings
New York doesn't have any pressing needs, but could make deals
NEW YORK -- The Yankees will bring their "open to anything" approach to the Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn., starting Monday, as general manager Brian Cashman says that he continues to be receptive to pitches. If teams want to toss out an offer that includes outfielder Brett Gardner or closer Andrew Miller, for example, the Yanks will at least listen.
Yet the Yankees believe that they have a roster capable of contending in the American League East as currently comprised, and so Cashman's stance is more an invitation to be wowed than born from any specific urgency filtering out of the Bronx.
"I think it's about roster upgrades more than anything else," Cashman said. "We'll gravitate to the positional side, the relief side, the rotation side -- whatever I can make materialize."
MLB.com and MLB Network will have wall-to-wall coverage of the 2015 Winter Meetings from the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, with the Network launching 35 hours of live Winter Meetings coverage on Sunday at 8 p.m. ET. Fans can also catch live streaming of all news conferences and manager availability on MLB.com, as well as the announcement of the Hall of Fame Pre-Integration Era Committee inductees on Monday at 11 a.m. and the Rule 5 Draft on Dec. 10 at 10 a.m.
While managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner has said that he expects to add at least one starting pitcher before next spring, the Yankees have thus far steered clear of the big-ticket aisles in free agency, with no connections to the likes of Zack Greinke, who is heading to the D-backs.
Steinbrenner has often said that the Yankees shouldn't need a $200 million payroll to win a World Series, and as such, Cashman has actively pursued the trade market in another attempt to improve the team's youth and flexibility.
Instead, because the Yanks had only about $12 million come off this past year's payroll, the timing doesn't seem right to make huge splashes. Over the two years following this one, they will see the deals of Mark Teixeira, Carlos Beltran, Alex Rodriguez and CC Sabathia all expire.
"The fact that we do have rather large commitments that we're tied into currently will affect the ability to strategize to every level, but it doesn't mean you don't have the ability to have those conversations nonetheless," Cashman said recently. "We will."
Part of the agenda is the Yankees' continuing search for this offseason's Didi Gregorius and Nathan Eovaldi -- young players who fell out of favor with their current club for one reason or another, but are still candidates to take a step forward in development.
"I'm honestly open to any idea," Cashman said. "I entered 2015's winter with no expectation of trading [Martin] Prado or Shane Greene ... but, because we were open-minded and listening and aggressive on all fronts, we ended up doing deals where Prado netted us Nathan Eovaldi and Greene netted us Didi Gregorius."
In that vein, the Yanks believed that they pulled the trigger at the right time to acquire switch-hitting outfielder Aaron Hicks from the Twins in exchange for backup catcher John Ryan Murphy. They had been deep on the catching side, as well as in left-handed relievers.
At the moment, Hicks projects to serve as the Yankees' fourth outfielder, filling a role that veteran Chris Young excelled in before agreeing to a deal with the Red Sox. That could change if the Yanks decide to respond to one of the many overtures they have received on Gardner, who has three years and $39 million remaining on his deal with New York.
If the season started tomorrow, the Yankees say they would be just fine with the tandem of Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury again atop the lineup, chasing balls down in Yankee Stadium's expansive left-center field. Their more pressing lineup concern is at second base, where they are pondering if the platoon of Dustin Ackley and Rob Refsnyder will hit and field enough.
Yet if Gardner, Miller or perhaps right-hander Ivan Nova could help bring an upgrade to the rotation, to the bullpen or to second base, it could be too tempting an opportunity for Cashman to turn down.