"We didn't sign Ellsbury to allow us to trade Gardner," Cashman said. "It's just that boomerang came around quick and everybody has made phone calls on Gardy. We have an obligation to hear what anybody's interest happens to be, but we're not shopping Gardy."
The Yankees are looking for answers at second base, third base, the pitching rotation and their bullpen, and the 30-year-old Gardner is an appealing trade chip because his salary -- expected to be between $4 million and $5 million after arbitration -- is affordable for clubs.
"We'll wait and see how the conversations are going," Cashman said. "I have thrown a lot of trade proposals [and] had a number of conversations on free agents. I don't know if it's going to lead anywhere or not, but that's why we're here."
One of those discussions took place with the Reds, who have shown interest in Gardner. Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said that the Yankees asked about right-hander Homer Bailey.
"I told them, 'We're not trading him,'" Jocketty said. "We're trying to sign him."
It is clear that the Yankees are also comfortable with the idea of keeping Gardner for themselves. They have spoken many times about the idea of him patrolling the outfield with Ellsbury.
"Left field is a center field at Yankee Stadium in itself," Cashman said. "We've got two guys that can play center field, just like we've been used to. We've had Gardy and [Curtis] Granderson, now it's Gardy and Ellsbury."
The Yankees would prefer to discuss a deal involving 40-year-old Ichiro Suzuki -- who is due $6.5 million next year -- rather than Gardner. The crowded mix also projects to include Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Beltran and Vernon Wells.
Interest in Ichiro has been sparse, but Cashman said on Tuesday that in addition to Gardner, he has received trade interest in right-hander Ivan Nova and catching prospects Gary Sanchez and J.R. Murphy.
Nova is being counted on to be in the rotation this season, slotting in with ace CC Sabathia and right-hander Hiroki Kuroda. Sanchez and Murphy could be dangled following the Yankees' signing of catcher Brian McCann to a five-year, $85 million contract.
Cashman said that he expects the lineup will benefit from the return of first baseman Mark Teixeira, but pointed out question marks at second base, third base and also shortstop.
Versatile infielder Kelly Johnson recently signed a one-year, $3 million deal with the Yankees; Cashman said the Yankees envision the left-handed-hitting Johnson playing second base or third base, perhaps as part of a platoon with a right-handed hitter.
Cashman also said that the Yankees have been in touch with the agent for Mark Reynolds, who hit six homers in 36 games for the club late last season after beginning the year with the Indians. The right-handed slugger could be useful, especially given Alex Rodriguez's uncertain situation.
"I'm talking to everybody," Cashman said. "Shoot high, shoot low."
The Yankees have been connected to free-agent starters Matt Garza and Ubaldo Jimenez on some level in recent weeks, and Cashman said on Tuesday that it might be easier to sign a free-agent starter than to trade for one.
He added that the Yankees are looking to improve the bullpen, naming free-agent lefty Boone Logan as one player they have discussed. Manager Joe Girardi said that at the moment, he is planning on a bullpen that will include David Robertson, Shawn Kelley, Preston Claiborne and either David Phelps or Adam Warren.
"This month is far from over. The Winter Meetings are far from over," Girardi said. "I think we'll look different come Jan. 31 than we do right now."
Cashman said that he was not certain if the team would be able to cross the finish line on any business before the Winter Meetings conclude on Thursday.
"I don't know," Cashman said. "I'd like to be able to leave with a number of players. I just don't know if that will happen or not yet."