NEW YORK -- When the Yankees gathered for their organizational meetings back in November, it was no secret that they would find a lot of holes to fill. It has been a mild surprise, however, how quickly they were able to begin moving the needle.
The Yankees have already made one of the biggest splashes of the offseason, agreeing to terms on a five-year contract with free-agent catcher Brian McCann. With the Winter Meetings approaching, there is much more on their shopping list.
General manager Brian Cashman and a contingent of Yanks executives will be on site at the Meetings, which kick off on Monday at the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Second baseman Robinson Cano continues to be a top priority for the Yankees, but there has only been minimal movement. There is still a considerable gap between Cano and the Yanks, who are believed to have offered a seven-year deal worth approximately $160 million to $170 million.
"We've had an amazing run with Robbie Cano. We'd like it to extend, but there's no guarantee it will," Cashman told reporters Monday in Stamford, Conn. "We've had offers out there, and I've made offers to multiple other players, and we have only so much we're going to spend in the marketplace. We are going to focus on those who gravitate closer to us and try to get a deal done with us, and we certainly hope Robbie is a part of that process, too."
Cano's baseball representative at CAA Sports, Brodie Van Wagenen, is expected to be available at the Winter Meetings for further discussion. In the meantime, the Yankees have held true to their word that they would move on with other needs. Their five-year, $85 million pact with McCann filled a serious need for power behind the plate, where four Yanks catchers combined to slug a big league-low eight home runs in 2013.
Free-agent outfielder Carlos Beltran is also high on the wish list, as Cashman is not satisfied with a current outfield that includes Brett Gardner, Alfonso Soriano, Vernon Wells and Ichiro Suzuki. The Yankees are thought to be amenable to a two-year contract with the 36-year-old Beltran, but they are hesitant to commit to a third year.
The Yanks have also flirted with Shin-Soo Choo and Jacoby Ellsbury, though Beltran remains more appealing because of the club's preference for a shorter-term commitment. If a dollar figure can be reached -- Beltran will want a raise over the $14 million he earned this past season -- they envision Beltran sliding into right field and serving as a part-time designated hitter.
Beltran would effectively replace Curtis Granderson, another free agent whom the Yankees have not completely closed the door on. As a backup plan in case Cano is playing elsewhere come April, the Yanks have also checked in on free-agent infielder Omar Infante.
The Yankees also need pitching, with only CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova scribbled in as locks for next year's rotation. Cashman said that he needs to add 400 innings to the rotation, and he is very interested in re-signing Hiroki Kuroda if the right-hander chooses to pitch in 2014. There have been indications that movement may soon come on that front.
"We would love to have Hiroki Kuroda back; I need starting pitching, and he has been a tremendous pitcher for us," Cashman told reporters. "We have made Hiroki Kuroda an offer, and we are waiting to hear if he would like to come back."
Japanese standout Masahiro Tanaka also continues to be a target of the Yanks, though there is uncertainty about when his posting process will be resolved. It may take until January for Tanaka to actually become available, though that could coincide with a final ruling concerning Alex Rodriguez's appeal of a 211-game suspension.
As of now, Cashman has said that the Yankees are planning their budget as though Rodriguez's salary is on the books. Thus, Rodriguez's suspension could potentially free upwards of $25 million, though it would force Cashman to continue looking to upgrade the left side of the infield.
The Yankees are known to have had some level of interest in free-agent infielder Stephen Drew, who would provide additional support even with Derek Jeter and Brendan Ryan already projected to be in the fold. Perhaps Mark Reynolds, who finished the year with the Yanks, could be an appealing replacement for Rodriguez.
David Robertson is in line to replace Mariano Rivera as the closer, but that is not guaranteed. The Yankees kicked the tires on free-agent relievers Joe Nathan -- who signed Tuesday with the Tigers -- as well as Grant Balfour, and Cashman said that he would love to keep free-agent lefty Boone Logan. However, it is thought the Yanks would only pursue a closer if they end up not signing Cano.
You can expect to see the Yankees attached to several more bold-faced names as the Winter Meetings approach. Cashman generally adheres to the thought process of "nothing ventured, nothing gained," knocking on many doors in the hopes of finding a match that makes sense for the club.