Yankees doing due diligence, but no deals close
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Yankees arrived for the Winter Meetings with "things percolating" on their Hot Stove, in the words of general manager Brian Cashman. It remains to be seen if those ideas will necessitate a visit to the press conference podium before they leave town.
Cashman spent his first afternoon of the Winter Meetings sequestered in his suite at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center, continuing to cast a wide net in efforts to upgrade New York's roster. Among the most tantalizing rumors: that the Yankees have checked in with the Marlins about right-hander Jose Fernandez's availability.
Fernandez, 23, checks off the Yankees' ideal qualifications as an exciting, cost-controlled talent who would bolster a rotation plagued by injury questions. Yet the Yankees' discussions with the Marlins may be best filed under "due diligence," as Miami has said it's not actively shopping Fernandez.
Other teams have explored Fernandez's availability, only to be turned off by a sky-high asking price. According to reports, Miami asked the D-backs for left-hander Patrick Corbin and more, while the Dodgers would have to surrender top prospects Corey Seager and Julio Urias just to move the needle in talks.
"Clearly, I'm not comfortable with recommending anything that's come my way, despite a lot of dialogue, and my opponents are not comfortable with the things I'm suggesting at this time," Cashman said before arriving in Nashville. "If not, we would have something to show for it already."
Any pursuit of Fernandez would figure to include a selection of the four "untouchable" prospects that Cashman refused to entertain moving last summer: first baseman Greg Bird, outfielder Aaron Judge, infielder Jorge Mateo and right-hander Luis Severino.
Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said last week that he does not know where the Fernandez rumors are coming from.
"He sits at the front of our rotation. We are not shopping Jose Fernandez," Hill said. "I don't know what more I can say. He's a good pitcher, one of the best in the league, so you're going to get asked about him. But we are not shopping Jose Fernandez."
Cashman's stance remains that he is "open to anything" as the club seeks flexibility heading into '16, but he has said that it is more likely than not that the Yankees will begin the season with both outfielder Brett Gardner and left-hander Andrew Miller on the roster.
The Yankees would need to score a significant haul to part with Gardner or Miller, but right-hander Ivan Nova seems more available in talks, as he was ineffective after returning from Tommy John surgery and will be eligible for free agency following the upcoming season.
"I think that he's someone that, given our circumstances, probably is important to retain," Cashman said of Nova. "But at the same time, given our circumstances and his, it's also smart to listen."
In addition to seeking a starter and staying on the alert for bullpen help, the Yankees continue to seek an upgrade over the offensive-minded combination of Dustin Ackley and Rob Refsnyder at second base.
FOX Sports reported Monday that infielder Asdrubal Cabrera has garnered interest from the club. The switch-hitting Cabrera, 30, posted a .265/.315/.430 slash line in 143 games for the Rays last season.
A shortstop by trade, Cabrera could move to second base as Stephen Drew did late in the 2014 season, perhaps allowing the Yankees the flexibility to package Refsnyder in trade discussions. Cashman has said that he would wager the Yankees are more likely to execute a trade than make a free-agent signing this week.
"If you're playing the odds, the odds are more likely for us to either make a trade or not do anything, but we'll see," Cashman said.