12/07/08 9:00 PM EST
Yanks ready to get ball rolling in Vegas
Club hopes to hear from Sabathia, make next move at Meetings
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
Major League Baseball's annual Winter Meetings open Monday in Las Vegas, kicking off this year's festivities in style at the Bellagio. Amidst the glitz and glamour, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman arrived eyeing a few bright lights of his own.
Having presented a six-year, $140 million offer to free-agent left-hander CC Sabathia on Nov. 14, the club's winter has been put into a holding pattern as it awaits a response. That could come this week, as New York's No. 1 target for upgrading its starting rotation may hint -- once and for all -- if he can see pinstripes in his future.
While the Yankees have made it little secret that they want Sabathia to be holding a baseball come the April christening of the new Yankee Stadium, they have needs going beyond just one ace-type pitcher and are prepared to move on other fronts.
Cashman made a preemptive strike to get the ball rolling last week when he chatted with Scott Boras, opening discussions on the agent's stable of premier free agents.
While switch-hitting first baseman Mark Teixeira was present at the meeting, it is believed that the Yankees will not be able to financially afford adding both Teixeira and Sabathia, and the club's stated focus has been adding starting pitching.
With the chips having been committed in theory to starting pitching, the Yankees do not figure to be major players for the available bats on the open market.
One of Boras' clients is right-hander Derek Lowe, who could be readying for an American League East tug-of-war between the Yankees and the Red Sox, both of whom are known to have interest in the 35-year-old sinkerballer.
New York has also significant interest in A.J. Burnett, though the five-year commitment that agent Darek Braunecker is said to be seeking could be one year too rich, even for the Yankees' bank accounts.
Left-hander Oliver Perez, who pitched the last 2 1/2 seasons across town with the Mets, could also be a Yankees fall-back option out of Boras' clientele list.
Cashman is believed to have at least discussed the name of Manny Ramirez in his meeting with Boras, but the Yankees have a glut of corner outfielders and designated-hitter types, reducing the urgency of adding the Washington Heights product.
Teixeira creates an appealing option to replace Jason Giambi as the Yankees' outgoing first baseman, but the club also obtained an in-house option in a November swap with the White Sox that fitted Nick Swisher -- hoping for a rebound season after a down '08 -- into pinstripes.
Indeed, while the Yankees boast financial muscle that many do not, Cashman has no intention of approaching the offseason with a blank check. He has derided speculation of locking up many of the top free agents as "fantasy."
A mind-set of fiscal restraint was evident in New York's decision not to offer arbitration to left-hander Andy Pettitte and outfielder Bobby Abreu last week, for fear they might accept and return to the roster in the $16-18 million salary range for 2009.
Cashman said New York will remain engaged with both players, and Pettitte could be a fit to rejoin the rotation during this week's Meetings. The 36-year-old left-hander did not jump at the Yankees' one-year, $10 million offer earlier in the offseason, and agents Randy and Alan Hendricks are working to help their client avoid taking a pay cut.
But Pettitte has made it little secret that he wants to pitch at the new Yankee Stadium in 2009, and the Yankees would like to have him back, slotting into a rotation that presents only Chien-Ming Wang and Joba Chamberlain as definite contributors so far.
Later Monday, the results of the pre-1943 and post-1943 Hall of Fame Veterans Committee ballots will be announced at 1 p.m. ET.
Former Yankees manager Joe Torre and broadcaster Jim Kaat are among the most likely to be elected to the Hall of Fame among a group of 10 players whose careers began in 1943 or beyond, while old-time Yankees Joe Gordon, Rick Ferrell, Carl Mays and Allie Reynolds are among a list of players examined whose careers ended prior to 1943.
On Tuesday, the Ford C. Frick Award winner -- presented annually for excellence in baseball broadcasting by the Hall of Fame -- will be announced at 2 p.m. ET.
Former Yankee Tony Kubek, who spent 30 seasons behind the microphone nationally (NBC Game of the Week) and for the Blue Jays and New York Yankees as a color commentator following his playing career, is a candidate.
The events round out Wednesday with an announcement from Major League Baseball regarding the 2009 World Baseball Classic, and Thursday marks the annual Rule 5 Draft at noon ET, completing the Winter Meetings.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.