New York Yankees: What to expect at the Winter Meetings
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Although Brian Cashman and the Yankees are not expected to make a big splash at the Winter Meetings, a few things could be on his plate.

Brian Cashman has said numerous times that most of the “heavy lifting” has already been done, meaning the composition of the New York Yankees roster for 2018 is almost complete. He is, of course, referring to the moves he made in the latter part of the 2017 season to strengthen the bullpen and starting pitching, while also bringing in role players, like Todd Frazier and Jaime Garcia, to solidify the charge to the playoffs.

Except for Frazier and Garcia (both free agents), that group, including Tommy Kahnle, David Robertson, and Sonny Gray, is still intact. The most significant and most anticipated move by the Yankees during the offseason passed by when Shohei Ohtani informed the Yankees he was taking a pass on signing with the team.

Once considered almost a sure thing, Ohtani has left the Yankees with a hole to fill in their starting rotation. Cashman is likely to start digging with alacrity once all the players are assembled in Florida beginning on Monday.

Joel Sherman, writing in the New York Post, wonders “if the Yanks could get Sabathia for $10 million on a one-year deal and Alex Cobb at, say, $15 million per on a four-year pact.” Makes sense to me, instead of pursuing a very pricey Jake Arrieta or Yu Darvish. Cashman could wrap the Sabathia part of the equation up before he even boards a plane Sunday night.

With Cobb, however, other teams also said to have an interest, and once it gets out there the Yankees have joined the chase, things can quickly get out of control in the pricing for Cobb’s services.

Meanwhile, and this is where it could be fascinating, Jon Heyman of Fanrag Sports Network reports the Baltimore Orioles have received calls from teams making offers for third baseman, Manny Machado. And further, they are not slamming the phone down.

Machado was born to play in the Bronx and annual rumors to place him there always seem to surface. With one year remaining on his contract before reaching agency next offseason, it stands to reason the Orioles would choose to get something back for Machado now, rather than wait to get nothing when he leaves, as most assuredly will be the case.

From Cashman’s standpoint, he has Chase Headley, and Gleyber Torres penciled in at Machado’s position. Clearing a spot for Machado today would require either trading Headley and his $13 million salary for 2018, plus entertaining the idea of trading Starlin Castro to make room for Torres at second base.

Knowing what we’ve seen from Cashman, it’s likely he’ll be a player in the Machado sweepstakes, but not a serious one considering the complexity of those two moves. Meaning that once Cashman clears the books with Headley and gets a better feel for Torres as a major leaguer, the Yankees will be headstrong with a plan to sign Machado as a free agent for 2019. After all, Torres, with accolades and all, is still unproven. And trading Castro is a big move.

Beyond that hullabaloo, Cashman, much like Sandy Alderson, is likely to direct his team to keep their ears open and their mouths shut in an attempt to gather as much information as possible for use once the season is underway and he has his team more in focus than he does now.

There are no fires raging out of control facing the Yankees. Minus Todd Frazier, what have they lost from last year’s team? Jaime Garcia?

The five days in Orlando, however, might be a good time for Aaron Boone, Cashman, the coaches they have so far, scouts, etc. to go into a full-blown retreat of sorts, using the opportunity to bring Boone up to speed with everyone in the same room.

And for the Yankees PR staff, you can be sure you’ll see them pumping a lot of Boone on the airwaves of TV and radio in an attempt to spread the gospel of the 2018 Yankees.

Someone could drop a match, and the meeting would go up flames, drawing Cashman and the Yankees into the mix. But it’s more likely, Cashman and his team will get more than their fair share of the sun and downtime at this year’s Winter Meetings.

Essentially, Cashman is dead on when he says most of the heavy lifting has been done. So why try to squeeze a round peg into a square hole if you don’t have to?

A fan of the Yankees for more than a half-century, the sport of baseball and writing about it is my passion. Formerly a staff writer for Empire Writes Back, Call To The Pen, and Yanks Go Yard, this opportunity with Elite Sports NY is what I have been looking for. I also have my own website titled Reflections On New York Baseball. My day job is teaching inmates at a New York State prison. Happily married with five grandchildren. Living in Catskill, New York.