12/08/08 11:03 PM EST
Yanks stay busy as Day 1 concludes
Cashman hoping for full agenda after face time with CC, Sheets
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
As Day 1 of the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas came to a close, Cashman would be left looking forward -- to steal a line from Elvis Presley's old tune -- for a little less conversation and a little more action.
The Yankees spent the day meeting again with their No. 1 target, CC Sabathia, and also received some face time with Ben Sheets. On deck will be a sitdown with the agents for right-hander A.J. Burnett, who arrived in town ready to talk business.
It is part of the Yankees' plan that they will engage any player who is willing to make the time for them. With the appealing backdrop of the Las Vegas locale drawing in more athletes than usual, Cashman's dance card could be exhausting.
"Hopefully, my schedule gets filled for the rest of the week," Cashman said.
But Burnett and agent Darek Braunecker could be waiting to see what happens with Sabathia before signing anywhere.
Though the Braves have gunned hard for Burnett, even making a fifth year a realistic possibility, a person familiar with the situation noted that Sabathia should be the first domino to fall.
"[Burnett] would be crazy to sign before CC," the person said. "If the Yankees don't get Sabathia, their price for A.J. just went through the roof."
So perhaps there will just be more chatter in Las Vegas for the Yankees, who have prioritized starting pitching as their must-add fashion accessory for the colder months. Cashman said that he is not waiting for Sabathia to decide on anything before pursuing other routes, but the market is deciding the pace.
"To be quite honest, it's not like people are rushing to force decisions to be made," Cashman said. "If I could have had our winter needs satisfied, I would have done that in the first week of this caravan. It's just not working that way and never does. It takes time to fill them."
Relaxing in a suite on the Bellagio's 23rd floor, overlooking the new construction of the adjacent Caesar's Palace casino, Cashman did not strike an optimistic tone that the rebuilding of his club would be completed by Thursday.
"Right now, I wouldn't predict we'll leave with anything at this point," Cashman said.
Not that the groundwork cannot be set. Cashman said he met on Monday with multiple agents, not including those for left-hander Andy Pettitte, who remains apart from the club's offer by about $6 million in salary.
But representatives Randy and Alan Hendricks are expected in house this week and Cashman said he could make time, having already swapped e-mails.
And while Scott Boras kept a low profile on the first day of the Meetings, the Yankees already have an "in" of sorts. Cashman engaged first baseman Mark Teixeira on Saturday in Maryland and, while New York's priority remains starting pitching, the Yankees do have some level of interest.
They also like other players from Boras' stable of All-Star talent, most notably right-hander Derek Lowe, and will remain in touch. But Cashman firmly stated that the Yankees have not made an offer to Teixeira, while refusing to outright dismiss the idea of landing both Teixeira and Sabathia.
"It's easy to say anybody would want a Mark Teixeira," Cashman said. "He's a special player."
One avenue the Yankees may not find success with is the trade front. Padres GM Kevin Towers noted Monday that ace Jake Peavy remains opposed to a swap that would send him to the American League, and Cashman agreed that it did not appear they would be able to trade for a frontline starting pitcher.
Doing so would require parting with young talent that they would prefer not to deal. Dodgers GM Ned Colletti shot down a report Monday that had Robinson Cano discussed in a trade for Matt Kemp, and while Cashman acknowledged that Cano is the type of high-ceiling player who draws interest, the Yankees are in no rush to move their second baseman after one disappointing year.
"Robinson Cano is a player that I know gets asked a lot about and speculated about a lot in trading," Cashman said. "We plan on having Robinson as our second baseman. We signed him last year as one of the long-term pieces here. ... I think Robinson Cano is going to have another big year next year."
So instead of swapping from within, Cashman's preference is the free-agent route. There, the Yankees have budgeted a specific range of dollars that they think can fill in their needs. If it takes a little more talking, they are ready to pay lip service.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.