The Yankees are awfully quiet this offseason. Is it because they are working on a blockbuster deal, or are they going to go into the season with the same team?
-- Edgar R., Queens, N.Y.
The story is much the same as we've been saying all winter; general manager Brian Cashman has said things like "the Yankees are open for business" and that he is "ready to rock and roll," especially for starting pitching, but thus far he has balked at the high prices on the trade market.
"There's things I could do, but I think everybody here would look at it and say, 'Wow, if I did that, I should be a pinata,'" Cashman said recently. "I could do them, but I shouldn't do them. I'm comfortable where we're at and what we're trying to do. If it takes longer, it takes longer."
Both Cashman and manager Joe Girardi have pointed out that the Yankees don't have many obvious holes to fill. They'd love to upgrade the rotation, but in the worst-case scenario, they have more than five options heading into camp who would fill in behind CC Sabathia.
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Cashman is said to have decided a while ago that big free agents weren't going to help the Yankees on the pitching front, not with the team's payroll being clamped down. That's why you've seen C.J. Wilson (five years, $77.5 million from the Angels), Mark Buehrle (four years, $56 million from the Marlins) and now Yu Darvish (the Rangers earned the right to negotiate by submitting a winning bid of approximately $51.7 million) heading elsewhere. In all three cases, the Yankees had some interest, but weren't willing to play in that financial ballpark.
Adding a bat was never a priority this winter, as the Yankees feel they're set at every position, with Jesus Montero in line to take over the DH duties from Jorge Posada. The bullpen is also viewed as a strength, so the only areas the Yankees might kick around in free agency from here on would be the bench.
Will it be enough? Here's what Curtis Granderson said: "Definitely. We have a team that won the division. That's what you want; we've got to get to the playoffs. ... If we can be in that same situation again and put ourselves in a situation to have home-field advantage for the first round of the playoffs, I think we've got another great shot to make a run."
Why are we not going after Hiroki Kuroda? With the Yankees offense, he could be pretty good, and he's not asking for much.
-- Edwin L., Florida
Don't completely rule that out. The Yankees were quick to shoot down a report that they'd offered a one-year, $12 million contract to the right-hander earlier this month, but are known to have had interest in Kuroda going back to the Trade Deadline in July. Kuroda wasn't elated then about the idea of going to the East Coast, preferring to stay with the Dodgers, but there's no room in Los Angeles' rotation now and having Russell Martin behind the plate in New York couldn't hurt.
Do you think there's a chance that the Yankees end up trading for Jair Jurrjens, especially since the Braves like Eduardo Nunez?
-- Mike H., East Haven, Conn.
This was a rumor that made the rounds in November, and it falls into the Yankees' plan of casting a wide net and seeing what they come up with. But around the Winter Meetings, we were hearing rumblings that the Yankees had serious questions about Jurrjens' health.
Jurrjens figures to get about $5 million in arbitration, which by itself shouldn't be enough to scare off the Yankees. But let's not forget that the Yankees balked at including Nunez in the July 2010 trade talks with the Mariners for Cliff Lee.
Why not trade Montero and a package for a starter like Gio Gonzalez, and then go after Prince Fielder as a DH?
-- Anthony V., Charlestown, N.H.
You're writing a huge check there to Fielder, who is in the prime of his career and has shown no interest in being a full-time DH. The Yankees aren't moving Mark Teixeira off first base anytime soon, and the Yankees are going to need that DH spot long-term for Alex Rodriguez and/or Derek Jeter.
The Yankees probably could create a package for Gonzalez around Montero, as the Athletics are known to have asked about him as well as pitchers Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances and outfield prospect Mason Williams. Unless the A's are bowled over with an offer, however, they don't necessarily have to move Gonzalez, who is under control through 2016.
What's the plan if A-Rod spends significant time on the disabled list this coming season? Will Nunez be the No. 1 backup for A-Rod and Jeter?
-- Andy M., Pittsburgh
That sounds like a possibility. Girardi said that there would be room on the roster for both Nunez and Japanese import Hiroyuki Nakajima, assuming the Yankees are able to reach an agreement with him. That seems to suggest there wouldn't be room for Eric Chavez, even though he and the Yankees have mutual interest in a return.
Still, most of Nakajima's pro experience is at shortstop, while Nunez has already played third base, shortstop and second base in the big leagues. We should expect to see Nunez also continue working in the outfield this spring to expand his versatility.