Yankees huddle to plot offseason strategy
Re-signing Cano, bidding for Tanaka, pursuing a catcher among potential objectives
NEW YORK -- The Yankees have no shortage of issues to attend to this offseason, and club brass began tackling that busy to-do list on Monday when they began their organizational meetings.
Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner and general partner Hank Steinbrenner were expected to preside over a gathering that will also include team president Randy Levine, chief operating officer Lonn Trost and general manager Brian Cashman.
The Yankees recently held their pro scouting meetings, creating the chessboard of players they plan to pursue during the winter. The widely discussed $189 million payroll objective remains in play, but the Yankees also have approximately $90 million coming off the books, suggesting big spending ahead.
They are hopeful of re-signing second baseman Robinson Cano, but are not interested in approaching the 10-year, $305 million deal that Cano has reportedly requested. They have acknowledged that Cano will test the free-agent market and speak to other clubs after the World Series concludes.
Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka has been a prominently mentioned name attached to the Yankees, who sent assistant GM Billy Eppler and scout Don Wakamatsu to see the 24-year-old pitch for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, for whom he was 22-0 with a 1.23 ERA and an 0.94 WHIP this season.
The Yankees have been hesitant to dip back into the Japanese pitching market after being burned by the failed Kei Igawa signing seven years ago, but Tanaka wields a nasty splitter and has been favorably compared to the Rangers' Yu Darvish.
The Yankees' interest in Tanaka is helped by the fact that the posting fee, which is likely to surpass the $51.7 million that Texas paid to negotiate with Darvish in January 2012, would not count against the luxury tax. The posting process for Tanaka cannot begin before Nov. 1, as Tanaka's team will face the Yomiuri Giants in the Japan Series beginning at the end of this week.
Published reports have speculated about the Yankees' interest in outfielder Carlos Beltran, but a more pressing need could be filled by a pursuit of catcher Brian McCann.
The Braves free agent has hit at least 20 homers in six consecutive seasons and would upgrade a position that combined for just eight homers this year among Chris Stewart (4), Francisco Cervelli (3) and Austin Romine (1).
Derek Jeter is confident that a full offseason of training will allow him to return to his 2012 form, but the Yankees also may also show interest in finding insurance for the shortstop position. Stephen Drew of the Red Sox and Jhonny Peralta of the Tigers have been mentioned as possible fits.
There is also interest in retaining some in-house players. The club is expected to tender a qualifying offer, worth $14.1 million, to outfielder Curtis Granderson, and could also do so with right-hander Hiroki Kuroda.
If a player accepts the qualifying offer, he would return on a one-year contract at that dollar amount; the offering club nets a Draft pick if the player turns down the qualifying offer and signs elsewhere.
Kuroda turned down the Yankees' qualifying offer last season but agreed to a one-year, $15 million deal. The free-agent pitching market is thin and Cashman has said that the Yankees want Kuroda to return. Kuroda said at the end of the season that he would need time to think about his future.
Granderson would join a crowded outfield mix that already includes Alfonso Soriano, Brett Gardner, Vernon Wells and Ichiro Suzuki, possibly setting up at least one future trade.
Cashman said recently that he is operating as though Alex Rodriguez will be active for 2014, since the Yankees cannot be sure how Rodriguez's appeal of a 211-game suspension will play out.
Rodriguez's appeal in front of arbitrator Fredric Horowitz will resume in November, according to an ESPN.com report, so the Yankees must move forward with Rodriguez's $25 million salary on the books as they plot their next moves.
There also could be administrative changes. In two postseason radio interviews, Hal Steinbrenner stated that he was disappointed with the club's player-development system and its inability to help the injury-depleted Yankees at the big league level this season.
That has led to speculation that the Yankees will examine the performance of Mark Newman, their senior vice president of baseball operations, and scouting director Damon Oppenheimer. However, no personnel changes are believed to be imminent.